Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.
Growing up half-White, half-Indonesian, I felt all of these pieces of my racial identity lumped together inside of me. But I didn’t know what they meant, what they sounded like, what they were trying to tell me.
Still, I had to navigate the world with these jumbled pieces.
Living in the U.S., I observed from a very young age that fitting into Whiteness would make my life a lot easier. I began to understand these pieces of my racial identity. Living in a White world, my Indonesian-ness made me feel shame. So I learned that to protect myself, I needed to push these pieces back.
As I navigated the world this way, I realized that Whiteness couldn’t protect me or accept me—all of me.
I began to question my racial identity… again.
Once again I had these pieces jumbled together inside me and I didn’t know what any of it meant. I was just as confused as before. Who am I? Where do I fit in? Who can I talk to?
Then I spent some time with the Indonesian pieces of me I had neglected. I turned off the hum of the world and the pressures around me, and I held space for myself to listen and learn.
Within me, I hold two cultures, two ancestries that sometimes feel at odds with each other. But when they exist in me, they create something that is simultaneously both and neither.
My racial identity does not always have to make sense to me or others.
I am unconditionally entitled to my heritage and history.
I am enough. I am whole.
I can celebrate the ways these pieces of me create beautiful experiences, and I can hold the ways in which they cause me pain. I can validate my Asian identity while also being responsible for the ways in which my White identity privileges me. My racial identity is ever-evolving, just like the rest of me.
Ayu Sutriasa is the digital editor at YES!, where she edits stories in the health and wellness beat, in addition to specializing in gender and body politics. She currently lives on unceded Duwamish territory, also known as Seattle, Washington. She speaks English and French. Find more of her writing on Substack.