Swimming for My Region, Drowning for My Race

As a Chinese-Indonesian, racism is something that I have been familiar with since a young age. It comes in the form of name-calling, casual insults, and other more blatant forms of discrimination.

However, one memory in particular has always stuck with me to this day. When I was in Junior High School, I decided to join the Olimpiade Olahraga Siswa Nasional (O2SN); I was representing my region Pelalawan in swimming. Throughout all three stages of the competition, from local up until the provincial level, I had racist remarks thrown at me. It started from numerous people’s stares and whispers. And coming from the only international school in town, I didn’t know that they were directed towards me as I came from a diverse and respectful school environment. Eventually those stares and glares turned into me getting shoved for no reason – that was when I realized that I was a target. I still didn’t give it much thought at the time though.

When I got to the event venue, the person-in-charge of handing the badge asked me, “Kamu cina ya?–Are you Chinese?” That took me by surprise since they didn’t ask the others about their ethnicity – but I nodded uncomfortably. After getting through to the next stage, I was asked by other athletes about my ethnicity. It then amounted to a lot of boys throwing me Chinese profanities, which made me mad and uncomfortable; but my coach told me to shrug it off and told me that “it’s normal”. So I did, I kept my mouth shut even though it made me hate myself for being Chinese-Indonesian, to the point where I considered drawing back from the competition.

However, as I got through to the provincial level, things got even worse. People started taking pictures of me. When one of the guys’ cameras flashed at me, he immediately laughed it off and shouted “Woi Cina anjing–hey, you filthy Chinese!” I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t, because there were so many people and none of them stood up for me.

At that time, I was the only Chinese-Indonesian female athlete, the other 3 Chinese-Indonesian athletes were boys that didn’t really go through what I went through. I experienced more racist insults several times in that week of competitions – from less significant instances where people mock Chinese (like saying “cingcong” when they walked past me and laughing like it’s the funniest thing in the world), to saying Chinese profanities to me.

It was a very unpleasant experience, because I was there competing as an Indonesian, but I had to face all that discrimination. The experience made me swear to myself that I will fight against racism as a whole, even if it happens to people who are racially different to me.

Tidak ada yang layak diperlakukan secara diskriminatif. Kirim tulisanmu sekarang, karena #YourStoriesMatter dan sekarang adalah #SaatnyaBerhenti.