I remember it wasn't always a good thing, to be different. It was in fact, as a matter of daily encounters, something of a bad thing.
It's funny, I remember as a kid, probably 5 or 6 years old thinking mostly in English. I'm not sure when I lost my native Thai language but I am sure it was driven by a desire to be more like the vastly pasty white landscape. Achieving social camouflage was not an easy task with our delicate Thai features. My kids will probably never experience what it's like to be singled out to that extent (by good or bad attention) because they grew up here in Orlando Florida during an era that defines "different" as the equivalent of "diverse". Their half Thai heritage means they are more exotic than foriegn, which blends nicely with all the other diversely exotic population. Back in New York, even upstate, our ethnic background was just another point of attack or weakness if you aren't taught to be proud of your heritage ...or worse, you think you want to be one of them. Seriously, I really didn't understand the differences and why there were opposing attitudes until I was almost a teen. I took every slur quite personally. It's not like my folks coached us on how to handle being racially different and what to expect. I don't think they really ever knew to what extent we delt with that wonderful aspect of life on a daily basis. I think they assumed that all our peers treated us like the adults that met us. Kids are so much more cruel and calous as we have all seen in some form or fashion. So like much of polite social practices of the time, we just didn't speak of such things. That was just how kids were, in that era of no awareness and little understanding of things outside of what the eyes could see.
Legitimately, everyone was something....goombas, wops, dagos, guinies, micks, spics and all pricks, lol. Yeah, everyone was something but there were a whole lot of the other white somethings than there were my shade of something, about 95% more. So...I grew up a minority in the minority. Without the numbers we were the ethnic island of the ONLY three Asian boys (that I know of), me and my two brothers , spanning two neighboring school systems. When we got to high school there were a couple more Asian families but think about the ratio there. Out of two graduating classes there were no more than 5 Asians out of prob 500 or more. The black kids weren't much more of an ethnic mass either. Ironically the black kids all had "color" last names too, no kidding ...Scott Brown, Morris White, and [Something] Green. Get the picture of this snowy white landscape? We were all blinded by the white growing up, lol.