Dutch | Moroccan
I identify myself as mixed-race Dutch and Moroccan, straight and spiritual. My Mum is Dutch, and my Dad is Moroccan, born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. They met in The Netherlands at a student party when my Mum was in uni. My Dad just moved to the Netherlands in the ‘70’s, a few years before they met. Growing up in a small town in The Netherlands, I noticed from a young age that our family was different. I remember that my Dad was seen as ‘the Moroccan’ in our neighbourhood and some of the parents did not want to interact with him. My Dad always used to call them ignorant and didn’t care so much about it – at least, that’s what he showed us. My parents raised us to embrace both cultures equally, but since no one around us spoke Moroccan-Arabic, I never really learned how to speak the language. We would go to Morocco during summer break every year until I was 16, by car. Those road trips and vacations were some of my best memories growing up. My Dad thought us (me and my brothers and sister) a lot about the country, the history and he would teach us how to recite the Quran. I went to a Christian school, where I learned the differences between Islam and Christianity – of which I became aware at a very young age. We would have the Dutch birthday parties and the Moroccan family get-togethers. I think my parents did really well in combining Dutch and Moroccan culture and gave us the freedom to develop ourselves into our own person and choosing our own path in our journey to adulthood.
You’ll find more mixed-race couples nowadays, because the world is becoming smaller. It’s so easy to travel around and meet people anywhere in the world. I love the multiculturality of the bigger cities. But personally, I don’t think much has changed in how other people view interracial relationships, it’s more about whether couples are willing to fight for what they have. My parents were lucky that both their families eventually accepted their relationship, although I know they fought hard to be accepted as a couple. Whereas I have dated outside both my backgrounds and was not accepted into (part of) the family, because I didn’t have the same religious beliefs - which caused the relationship to end eventually. These things still happen. It’s difficult to sacrifice losing family members or friends if they don’t agree with your relationship and I think nowadays we don’t fight for relationships as much as the older generations did. The question is more about if you’re willing to stand and rise above it, even it means losing people around you that don’t (want to) understand.
Dating in general is hard nowadays! Especially when you have a mixed background. I think it’s important that your partner understands your upbringing. When someone has one ethnic background, most of the time they also have a singular view on certain values. But being raised biracial and Muslim in an intercultural environment and becoming more spiritual over time has made my views on relationships change. I’ve heard that I’m not Moroccan or Muslim enough, or that I’m too Muslim (whatever that means), or that I’m not Dutch enough, so it can be difficult to connect. I find it very important to relate with someone on a spiritual level and I’ve become pickier because of this. It seems almost impossible to meet someone that really gets you and that understands why you see things the way you do, especially when it comes to religious beliefs or other values.
One of the superpowers you develop, is the ability to adapt to situations and people easily. I also find it enriching to be able to experience and compare both cultures I grew up with. I lean more towards my Moroccan family, especially since my Mum passed away. They’ve showed me what warmth and unconditional love is, for which I’m super grateful. It’s also nice to be different from everyone else, you stand out in a way. My skin looks White, but I’m half North African. That leads to interesting conversations sometimes. I’m very proud of my mixed background, but I do feel like I never really belong to either culture. I look more Dutch than Moroccan, but I’m too Moroccan to be seen as Dutch in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, there is a right-wing movement going on and the underlying feeling is that ‘immigrants should integrate more or leave the country’. But even when you have integrated or even assimilated into society, you still never really belong to it. For me it’s not about how I look, but it’s my name that causes misunderstanding and awkward situations. And because of my name, I’ve also experienced racism. And those misunderstanding and awkward situations go both ways! It’s like your stuck in the middle between two cultures and have to pick one, but you can’t because it’s both who you are. In situations like that, one side always takes offence. It still amazes me how narrow-minded people can be. People always want to label you as something, it’s something we unconsciously do as human beings I guess. But I don’t always belong to a culture or country, or language. Sometimes I feel very Dutch, in some situations I don’t know how to feel. Most often, I feel like me and adapt to situations how I find suitable. That feeling of not belonging, is something I struggle with most. I’m now focusing more on finding my own voice in determining how I should feel or see myself as. It’s still a process, but I’m learning to let that intuition or gut feeling guide me through it.
I breathe music, all kinds of music. I consider myself to be a citizen of the world and you can catch me listening to anything: from Portuguese Fado, Afrohouse, R&B, zouk, House music, to Moroccan Chaabi or Arabic music - which I can also dance to. Arabic or Moroccan people are always surprised when they find out I can dance like that. I always imagine them saying to each other: ‘Look at her trying to shake those hips, pretty good for a White girl!’.
We used to travel to Morocco every year growing up. I just got back from Morocco today, because my Grandmother passed away. I’ve learned a lot about how different customs for burial are and how grief is experienced in Morocco. Before this trip, I didn’t visit Morocco for a long time. It took me 12 years to come back, but it’s also because I like to travel solo nowadays, and I want to visit different countries
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would like to return as me, with the knowledge I have now. Growing up I was very insecure, also about my mixed-race. Because I felt like I didn’t belong, I became somewhat of a loner although I’m very sociable. I would tell that insecure girl to connect with herself more and to not care so much about what other people may think or say. The connection you have and feel with yourself is what matters most. Apart from that, I wouldn’t change a thing.