“It goes both ways, both sides are equally racist,” said human rights activist, Ester Jusuf Purba in an interview once.
She was referring to the entrenched racism and paranoia between Chinese Indonesians and the so-called native Indonesians or pribumi.
Indonesia has come a long way in its treatments of its ethnic Chinese population, with some of the restrictions such as the use of Chinese names and the display of Chinese cultures lifted following the 1998 Reforms.
But rooted deeply in the class division put in place during the Dutch colonial rule and enforced with vigor by the New Order regime, the Chinese descent and the rest of the population remain largely segregated.
We came across a video made by Anggit Bestari, an Indonesian student in Bournemouth, UK, in which two young Chinese Indonesians speak bluntly about this issue. The two obviously foreign-educated interviewees say they wish that racism will be overcome and express their love for the country, but are not sure what they can do to help.
“I want to make a difference in Indonesia. We love the country. But it’s difficult for us and, to be honest, it’s not worth it. Why would we spend time and energy to develop a country that stereotypically rejects us,” the young man in the video says.