Japan Influence (pt. 3)

CONTINUED FROM PART 2…   Her plan was to return from Japan as a new version of herself, as a qualified member of her USC sorority house, as the upscale Japanese-girl version who would score a rich doctor one day. She was outright militant about it, unapologetic, daring anyone to question the validity of her choices. And no one did, at least not to her face. Eventually, she married the doctor. They were miserable. Life behind the walls of her home off the wealthy Rodeo Drive didn’t work out any different from how it had at the Uehatas. She wasn’t…

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Japan Influence (pt. 2)

CONTINUED FROM PART 1…   As fate would have it, my freshman year roommate was a Japanese-Hawaiian girl from an elite private college girls prep school. Another was Japanese-Hawaiian from another private prestigious Hawaiian prep-school. I watched and learned, perhaps marveled, at how easily they could ebb and flow between multiple groups of the same economic background. Their comfort and common experiences with Jewish girls from similar private girls’ schools belied the generational challenges their parents and grandparents experienced, experiences which were on par with many of us who were from the Black and Latino public schools. Up to that…

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Japan Influence (pt. 1)

一期一会 (One life, one encounter) —Japanese idiom   Song of the Day: “Sukiyaki,” Kyu Sakimoto   Going from Switzerland to Japan didn’t compare to the culture shock I experienced when I accompanied my grandmother to clean homes fewer than 6.3 miles from our own. My first time was in high school and I continued through my freshman year in college. I went because I loved being with her and helping her, though she insisted on paying me. That world was so far from mine that I felt like a foreigner in what I once believed was my own backyard. Although…

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Shirley Temple Curls and Black Girl Dreams

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. —C.S. Lewis   Songs of the Day: “This Is A Man’s World,” James Brown with Luciano Pavoratti “Queen of the Night Arias”; The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sumi Jo   Like millions of little Black girls in the 1960s with 4C hair (the kinkiest of kinky), I spent Saturday mornings sitting by the stove getting my hair pressed. And if it was a special occasion, my mother would take the time to wind my hair into Shirley Temple…

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The Power of a Mentor

We hired you for your opinion and the minute you cease to give it you lose your value. —Channing Dungey And that’s the moment you stop trusting your voice. —Gael-Sylvia Pullen   Song of the Day: “Je T’aime,” Lara Fabian   To live well, I believe you must have a positive mentor and become a positive mentor. Miss Dittus, my seventh grade teacher, was one of those mentors to me. Before my first trip away from my family and community, my first time flying in an airplane, my first time outside the United States, I timidly shared with my seventh grade…

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Peace, Prayer, and Disneyland

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing—That it was all started by a mouse —Walt Disney   Song of the Day: “You Know My Name,” Tasha Cobb   I grew up in Southern California during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War era. I was in elementary school when the draft began for that war, and in high school when it ended and the world transitioned to recovery, while civil rights made only incremental steps. I’m a beneficiary of both attempts at peace. The casualties of lost battles continue to be worth remembering. My perspective…

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