If you'd like a bit of insight into my childhood, I give to you the following article by the BBC.
Technically I am not a Zonian, since we lived in Panama City rather than the Zone until after I went off to college., but I did go to school in the Zone and most of my friends lived there. And I still (occasionally) attend the annual Panama Canal Zone Society reunions.
Most of the segregation issues discussed at length weren't visible by the time I lived there, but you could see some of its legacy in a couple of overwhelmingly Caribbean/black towns (Paraiso, Rainbow City, ...). I imagine my black friends experienced it, but being a naive idealistic kid, I didn't really notice anything.
In many ways, living in the Zone was akin to an idealized socialist mecca. Everybody worked for one of two employers (the Panama Canal Company or the US government, and the former was essentially part of the latter). Said employer provided everything: housing, medicine, heavily subsidized food/entertainment (movies/golf/scuba/parks/...), utilities, etc. They cut the grass, maintained your house, and (as the article jokes) even changed your lightbulbs. Pretty much everybody was middle to upper-middle class. Serious crime was largely non-existent. A bubble in time, largely immune to what was going on in the broader world, at least from the viewpoint of an adolescent. Think Ozzie and Harriet meets Dazed and Confused.
I can still remember clearly sitting in Social Studies class in Curundu Junior High listening live to the Senate vote on the Panama Canal Treaty. Let's just say that having the same surname as President Jimmy went from being a mildly entertaining coincidence to something I actively downplayed for a while. He was (and I assume remains) beloved by Panamanians, but was Public Enemy #1 to Zonians.
Panama was a pretty amazing place to grow up...