It seems to me, that each child is born with a sense of equality. That is to say, as the child grows he, along with his peers, only gradually begins to notice the differences between him and the rest of the world. I spent the early parts of my childhood growing up in a town in the Sacramento area of California known as Rocklin. This was a predominately white community, though I had not the knowledge of that or even what that meant at the time. The summer after my eighth birthday my family and I moved to Chicago, a city with a much richer diversity than in Rocklin. Yet still, in my three years there I had no idea, nor appreciation for what that meant. As a child I had no real sense of racial difference, and as such it had no bearing on the friends I made at the time.
After three years in Chicago we moved back to California, this time to the city of Fresno. The Fresno county area had a sum population of over half a million people. There was no real change in the amount of diverse peoples that I noticed coming to Fresno in the summer before sixth grade. Through sixth grade, while that adolescence phase of my life began I was suddenly aware of the billions of people around me. The middle school I went to was a magnet school with an emphasis on technology, and one of the features of this magnet school was that it accepted an equal amount of kids from each race.
As I made my way through middle school and the adjacent high school, I managed to break through the cultural barrier that had somehow managed to keep me separate and was immersed into an Asian culture. Spending time with these Asian friends of mine (actually mainly Asian girls other than Harry my dubbed “Chinese brother” do to a majority of Asian guys not really feeling all that comfortable with me) I somehow managed to develop a sort of prejudice towards white people. My brother later defined this as my being “ashamed of my white trash heritage.” I took that with a grain of salt when he said it, but it did make me consider this prejudice of mine, and the reasons for it.
Of course, my being completely satisfied with the life I had and the friends I’d made, my parents decided it was time for another move. This time to a region of the United States where nine out of every ten people are white, and a town with an Asian population under 3 percent. Unlike the moves of my childhood, where I had gone both willingly and with excitement, I dreaded this move. And also, unlike the moves of my childhood, I was well aware of the cultural implications of a town as such. The time I had spent breaking through the large cultural barrier that had been established between me and the Asian society, roughly two and a half years, now seemed to have been all for not.
My brother told me, after putting up with a bit of my complaints, that it was time for me to take a break from Asians for a while. And so I tried to put my petty problems behind me and accept this city of Bellingham. It took me a while to really accept my situation and quit moping about it (though I’m not above complaint from time to time). And eventually I entered a stage of reflection, as we all do from time to time, looking at how much I had grown over the past years, even months, and the changes that had occurred within me and around me.
Through my early youth I had never given other races and cultures more than a seconds thought, and I never realized how valuable they were until I no longer had them around me in abundance. People often take for granted what they can learn from each other, and only after they no longer have the ability to take advantage of these opportunities do they realize what they had had, and what they have lost.