“I’m young, Chinese and have an own identity”
155th Anniversary Chinese immigration in Suriname
By Zarissa Windzak, Suriname
“Chinese people are dirty”, says Marian (15)
Suriname celebrated the 155th anniversary of the Chinese immigration on the 20th of October. The country’s president Ronald Venetiaan pleaded, just as he did during the celebration of the Chinese new-year, for the community to accept the Chinese people as equal citizens in the country.
The Chinese community has often been spoken very negatively of by other groups within the country. The remarks made by Jessica and Marian are the most used. “I don’t like to discriminate or anything, but in school it’s mostly the black kids that bother us about our heritage. They would say things like Chinese people are dirty and they don’t like to bathe,” Jessica explains. She goes to a girls school and admits she sometimes can’t help to react by saying mean things back. “I would react by saying that everyone in Suriname should be happy that we are even in the country, because it’s the clothes made by us Chinese that these people wear on their backs,” she says.
Just like Jessica, Marian also feels discriminated against at times. “Most people think that all Chinese own a store or can’t speak dutch, which is not true. It’s possible that the Chinese who just migrated to Suriname are all the things most people think, but they keep forgetting that the rest are born in Suriname.” In any case Marian is still proud of her heritage, especially the fact that many Chinese people in Suriname own a store.
Marian and Jessica are best friends. Marian’s surname is Lieuw, while Jessica’s is Lie. They’re not related or anything. Jessica: “It’s spelled very differently but when you pronounce it, it sounds the same. The names are written in various ways, but are pronounced in the same way.”
With the celebration of the 155th anniversary the girls also participated in some of the festivities. “We go to the same church and we just sang on stage in the church choir.” Marian says. With their friends from the church they sang a couple of Chinese songs as an exhibition of their heritage. After the celebration the girls hope that the teasing in school will stop so they can be treated as equal people, but with their own identity. “I don’t want it to bother me, because I know the important thing is to know how to live right and how to treat others,” Jessica concludes.
voorzitter van Kong Ngie Tong Sang, de heer Chee Yuk Kee, gaf ook aan in zijn toespraak, dat er inderdaad gewerkt moet worden aan het verder verstevigen en behouden van de banden met elkaar. “We moeten in eenheid en harmo-nie met elkaar leven. Waar onze ‘roots’ ook mogen lig-gen, we moeten ons inzetten voor ons nieuwe vaderland op zowel economisch als so-ciaal gebied ” zei hij.
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