Memoirs of a Geisha

During the semester, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I reread one of my favorite stories, Memoirs of a Geisha, recently and was reminded of why I enjoy this book.

The story is told from first person point-of-view from an older geisha. She begins the story when is a just a young girl in Japan during the Depression. Chiyo Sakamoto is a poor girl from a fishing village, but captures the attention of a man for her unusual eyes, which are a blue-gray color. She and her sister are taken from their home and Chiyo is sold to an okiya (house where geisha live) in a prominent area of Kyoto. The story is based on background information provided by retired geisha, Mineko Iwasaki, but Chiyo’s character is fictional. Without giving too much away, she becomes a maid before she begins her journey to being a geisha. Chiyo is in awe of the beauty of the geishas and the respect they are given, but the path is very difficult.

I enjoyed the novel because it read at a leisurely pace without being slow. In the beginning of the story, Chiyo is just a child. The narrative highlights her curiosities at that age and her emotions as she is taken from her home. It also reflects her maturity as she gets older and encounters different experiences. Reading the story made me feel like I was following Chiyo through her life. A good book will pull in its readers until they feel every emotion and that was my experience with this one. When there were moments of heartbreak, it hurt me to read of her tears and devastation. The story was very detailed, but well-balanced with dialogue. Many different characters are introduced throughout the story, but it was not confusing because there was a clear distinction between them. Each character had a strong impact on Chiyo and I could feel that through their descriptions.

Prior to reading this book, I had heard of geishas and only knew what they looked like. I did not know what they did, but there was a negative association between geishas and prostitutes. Geishas are traditional Japanese entertainers. They entertain men through song, dance, conversation and serve tea as hostesses. Young girls spent years training and perfecting their skills that would make them successful geishas. They went to schools that taught dance, musical instruments, and other skills. It was important for them to be successful because they were expected to repay their okiyas back for the money spent on their food, lodging, kimono, and other tools needed.

There is a great deal of effort and time that is required for being a geisha and not every woman can do this successfully. It is also important to note that some people would confuse geishas with prostitutes. The difference is that geisha’s wear their sash tied in the back, but the prostitutes tied theirs in the front. There are still some geishas practicing in Japan, but they are mostly in the company of the higher social class.

This book is controversial because Iwasaki sued Arthur Golden after the book’s release. According to her, he was supposed to keep her identity a secret and revealed parts of her life that were supposed to remain personal. She felt that he did not accurately portray her life and shamed the geisha profession. Iwasaki published her own book in 2002 titled, Geisha: A Life, to tell her story in her own words.

Whether the story is completely true or not, it is still a very good story that I can always come back to when I want something to read. This is also an award-winning movie.

Black Privilege

When you see the title of this book, what do you think about? I know some of you are probably thinking, “there’s no such thing as black privilege in America.” So, what does this title mean? Charlamagne defines Black Privilege in a different way, although some may agree to disagree, racism and white privilege are very real in this country and that’s fact not just my opinion. The subject of race can sometimes be an awkward topic to talk about, but if society keep sweeping it under the rug as if it means nothing, how are we supposed to fix the social issues that are going on? When asked about the title he says, “when you’re talking about black privilege you’re talking about something spiritual, not something systemic…I feel like we’re able to tap into a divine system that gives us abilities to prosper in spite of all the obstacles we face in America.”

Charlamagne Tha God is a cohost of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartradio program “The Breakfast Club” and a featured television personality at MTV and MTV2. He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World LLC; cohost of the popular podcast “The Brilliant Idiots;” and author of his own Marvel comic. Born and raised in a small town in South Carolina, Charlamagne quickly rose to become one of today’s most unique and compelling media personalities. His point of view and proactive celebrity interviews help drive the daily national conversation about issues related to hip-hop, race, society, and politics. (CharlamagneThaGod, Black Privilege)

He can now add New York Times best seller to his resume`. Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create it, discusses eight life principles to help people find what it is they were meant to do in life. He says, “live your truth, so no one can use your truth against you,” he explains that living an authentic life is the best way to live and that will bring you ultimate success and happiness. Within this book Charlamagne is unfiltered and give the raw honest truth about his upbringing and how he managed to completely change his life around coming from a small town called Moncks Corner, South Carolina to working in the city that never sleeps. After being kicked out of school, fired from multiple jobs, he found mentors that helped him to see what all life had to offer.

I’ll share three of my favorite principles that resonated with me most:

1. It’s not the size of the pond but the hustle of the fish: Principle 1
“Geographical location doesn’t determine what kind of success you will have, but your psychological position always will. How are you going to make waves in a bigger pond when you haven’t even learned how to cause a ripple in the pod you’re in? When you stop complaining about where you are physically and start focusing on where you are mentally, that’s when you will start to transcend your circumstances.” (Black Privilege, page 1)

I love this principle because I was raised in a small town that don’t offer many opportunities that correspond to my dream career. I’ve always thought, if I could just get to a bigger city then I’ll be successful. When in reality that’s not necessarily true. I’ve learned to just start where you are and make do with that, if you’re passionate about what it is you’re doing everything else will eventually will fall into place.

2. There are no losses in life, only lessons: Principle 4
“Always look for the lesson in any situation you think didn’t go your way. Understand that your plan isn’t necessarily also God’s plan for you.” (page 107)

This is one that really resonated with me because sometimes when something bad happens we take that as a loss. However, it’s not a loss just a lesson that you needed to be taught. Often times in life we get impatient and we want things quick and easy. I’ve always heard that “the things worth having don’t come easy.” You have to understand that all of your setbacks, roadblocks, and detours are necessary if you want to get to the next level in life. So, the next time you feel defeated by life think about the lesson that you needed to learn.

3. PYP (Pick your Passion, Poison, or Procrastination): Principle 2
“There are three primary “P’s” to choose from life: (1) Passion, which leads to prosperity. (2) Poison, which leads to pain. (3) Procrastination, which doesn’t lead anywhere at all, because you sit around waiting for things to just magically happen. Please don’t pick “P’s” numbers 2 and 3. Instead of hoping you’ll be successful, follow your passion and make conscious decisions that will help you realize your destiny.”( page 33)

What I like about this principle is that whatever you’re passionate about it’s important to follow that particular thing. Yes, it can be scary to step outside of your comfort zone, but don’t keep procrastinating on a dream that have been on the fore front of your mind for years. In the process of following your dreams separate yourself from the things that don’t bring you any joy. Surround yourself with people that are going to make you constantly want to evolve.