For most children, race is not a conscious thought. You just play with the kids in your neighborhood without much thought as to why some kids had darker or lighter skin. In most cases, due to the racial homogeneity of the majority of neighborhoods in America, you usually played with kids who were the same color as you, so there'd really be no reason for the philosophical "Who am I?" question. For me, the self-realization of my race was one of my earliest thoughts. I was probably only four years old when my brother and I had a discussion of why everyone else in town looked different from us. We had this talk while walking down the street and seeing the dozens of fellow pedestrians with significantly darker skin than ours. My theory was that it was all by chance. I said that when a baby was born (brought by the stork) the color of the newborn was completely random. And by luck of the draw, our whole family came out the exact same color. My brother, Jung, didn't have his own explanation so I took his silence for agreement.
Usually the difference in skin color, alone, doesn't trigger race-consciousness in a four-year-old; there has to be something else. That something else for me and my brothers was the frequent name calling we received when we walked down our street. It was a pretty regular occurrence for complete strangers to see us and immediately say, "Yo, chink!" Well, I guess it wasn't always completely random. More often, it would be in an instance like when we passed by some kids playing baseball and if their ball happened to roll by us, they would yell something like, "Yo chink, get the ball!" Since these kids were always bigger than I, the most I could muster would be a, "Yo, shut up!" That quickly became my knee-jerk retort. After which, I would quickly put my head down and walk away, almost hoping they didn't hear me.