We are born with the abilities to differentiate what is different from ourselves, and what is different from others. However, the values that are bestowed upon these differences are taught, not innate.
As young children, our perception of life is different. Our culture has not yet taught us the norms and beliefs of society. As a result, everything is different. We observe these differences and are taught by our parents in the beginning how to categorized those differences as we age. When times, our parents pair up with our teachers to further our education. We learn how to distinguish from living organisms from non-living organisms, food from non-food. By the time a child reaches school age, children are taught that they are people and cows and dog are anime. With a child’s mind, I entered my first day at school with these abilities. I was able to recognize that everyone was different in their own way. The differences did not matter, because we all had them. There were no one differences that was greater than another.
With time, we learned to expand our broad categorizations such as animals and plants to smaller groupings such as cats and bushes. These subdivisions found its way to human. All of my classmates fit into one category, the white category, I was left with my own category as the Asian student. Outside of the class, I encounter other categories such as African-Americans. But as for myself, I was rare. Only in Chinese themed restaurant, were there people like me. But by then, I did not feel like I belonged with them. My culture and race separated then. I was white but people, my classmates, saw me as Asian. The realization of being physically Asian and the disconnection from my culture did not bother me however. As I said before, I rarely saw others like me and my appearance was rarely mentioned since it was evident that I was Asian on some level and my world was confined into a small town where everyone knew each other. Combined with my families indifference to my ethnicity, I grow up with the mindset of indifference.
With this in mind, my differences were pointed out occasionally. The first time someone ever pointed out a difference to me was around the second grade. During art class, there was some down time and one of the boys at my table pointed out my narrow eyes. He thought they were strange and some of the other kids did too. I did not know how to feel about it. My eyes, I thought, were the same any other eyes; they did the something as everyone else. I gave the boy a mean look and retorted to his comment. Our commotion must have alerted the teacher, because she made her way to the back room where we all sat. One of the girls close to my vicinity told the teacher what was going on when she asked. She told us that we are all different and that even though he may think my eyes were strange, I may think he was strange. Also, she told us that she liked my eyes. After that, the conversation dropped and we went back to our art projects. The boy who made the comment about my eyes never mentioned it again. It took me a few days to forgive him but eventually I did and that was that.
To be continued…….