A Surinamese friend of mine recently told me that he would never again just approach a Dutchman and ask for anything. Surprised, I asked "why not?"
A Surinamese friend of mine recently told me that he would never again just approach a Dutchman and ask for anything. Surprised, I asked "why not?" whereupon he told the following story. When he was studying in Boston, he once approached a Dutch fellow student. He asked "Hey, aren't you Dutch?" I think that is a fairly common question and a normal action if you are in a country where you hardly meet any other native speakers. Well, apparently not for this young man. He reacted super fiercely with "Don't you ever, and I mean EVER talk Dutch to me again!" (Never, NEVER speak Dutch to me again, you hear!). That friend of mine is so shocked by this that he has given up on it. Although I can imagine the shock after such a reaction, I immediately thought oh that guy was just a little crazy. Crazy might be too strong a word, but I think he does have a problem. It may be that he wants to pass as an American or that he is ashamed to be Dutch. Who will say? Still, I had to laugh at this story. It reminded me of an email I received a while ago.
In the e-mail the writer asked if I could perhaps explain the "strange" reaction of a colleague of hers of Surinamese descent. She explained that she was certainly also familiar with frizzy hair issues. She was an Antillean herself, but this had really happened to her for the first time. She simply asked her colleague how often she relaxed her hair. I think a fairly common question and a normal action if you live in a country where your hair type is unique. But apparently not for this lady. Aiaiai, oh, oh, oh, she should never have asked that. This "crazy" colleague reacted quite touched, I think at least as fiercely as the above-mentioned young man, "How can you ask me such a question? So close to other (white?) people.
Like the aforementioned case with the young man, I strongly suspect that this colleague did everything possible to literally deny her "roots". Whether you're born Dutch or have naturally curly hair, neither can change you. You can pop a pot of burning straight on your head every day, to smooth your hair and hide the natural watch feathers, they will come back. You can speak American from today until tomorrow and even change your name to disprove your heritage, but it will always be part of you.
It seems very sad to me to be so deeply unhappy, with a part that is inextricably linked to yourself. At first I was therefore sad about the reaction of the above colleague with her "camouflage" hair, but after the story of that Dutchman, I was able to put it in context and even see the humor in both cases. Everyone has something and you can make it as heavy or as light as you want. I am happy with my curly hair and with my Surinamese origin. But make no mistake: "Every madman has his flaw."