Dutch | Senegalese

Jessica Sueters_amsterdam.JPG

I feel like I am Dutch just as much as I feel Senegalese. I really learned everything from both worlds but because I grew up here I know how it is to be Dutch and live here. I know less about growing up as me in Senegal.  

My mum was born in 1965 and raised in Senegal. She came to the Netherlands in 1992.

My dad was born in 1954 in Sydney, Australia. His parents are both Dutch. The reason my father was born in Australia is that my grandfather decided to immigrate after the Second World War. They went back to the Netherlands by boat in 1959. At that time the family had five members; my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and my father. My father continued to live in the Netherlands since returning.

My parents met in Senegal in 1990. My father’s sister immigrated to Senegal for a job as an English teacher in an international school in Dakar. My father went to visit her and her husband in 1990. My mother was living at the husband’s mom place. My father and his brother in law went there to visit his mom before church. My mother walked into the room to go to church and she immediately caught his attention. So, he asked his brother in law who is that and can you introduce me to her. They clicked and when my father left they wrote to each other for two years. As I said before she then came to The Netherlands in 1992. My sister was born in 1994, they were married in 1995 and I was born in 1997. 

I’m 24 years old. I grew up in Weesp (the west of the Netherlands) until the age of 10, then I moved to Enschede (the east of the Netherlands) until the age of 17 and then I moved to Amsterdam for my internship. I studied legal services back then, I got my diploma for this. After that, I started studying social work but I didn’t really like it so I stopped after a few months. From then on, I started working in restaurants and I’ve been doing that ever since. A while ago I discovered that starting up my own clothing brand is my dream, and I also have been recording songs in the studio so those are the two main things I'm working on right now next to work. I also spend a lot of time in the gym lately.

I always knew I was from to totally different backgrounds, because we would go on vacation to Senegal every year, beginning when I was 6 months old. 

I make friends with everyone regardless where they come from, also if I date a person their background does not affect my choice. I am only interested in their personality. 

I remember a few incidents where I felt race was a factor in my progression, I had passed a telephone interview and was now invited to a face to face interview. During the interview I noticed by the look on the interviewers faces that they expected a white girl instead of me. Another instance was when I failed my driver's license test. I had already failed 3 times at this point, 2 of these times without making any mistakes. My teacher told me that if I would be a blond girl with blue eyes I would have passed. Also, when I moved to Enschede (Netherlands) I got bullied because of my different looks and skin color. 

If I were to be born again I’d choose the same cultural background, but that doesn’t take away the fact that my life would be easier if I would choose to be white. 

I feel like we are getting more and more aware of how it is to come from a mixed-race background. And I think that in 50 years from now there almost everybody will be mixed. So, I see a bright future for us, we’re getting there.