Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Fresh Prince reunion, Tunisia's slavery legacy, the Thanksgiving myth, and Lebanon's glass ceiling
This week, the United States hit a devastating milestone: 250,000 deaths (and rising) as a result of COVID-19.
Many of those who died while in the hospital (disproportionately Black and Hispanic/Latinx patients) probably did so without their loved ones at their side because of health restrictions. And there are still thousands of people who did not die but may now have long-lasting health complications because of COVID.
And so much of this could have been prevented. That’s really what hurts, too.
I’ve thought a lot about this line in a HuffPost article I read the other day: “America’s grim mortality statistics are the direct result of political decisions by the country’s leaders.”
It’s difficult to see this any other way. The Trump administration, many Republican governors, and Republicans in Congress attacked medical practitioners and played politics early on with this virus and with people’s lives. Now, as the president and his supporters continue to focus their attention on conspiracy theories, baseless voter fraud claims (mainly against cities with large Black populations), and intimidation in order to change the outcome of the presidential election, cases of COVID continue to spike across the country and people continue to die. Imagine all of that energy trying to overturn an election being used instead to mitigate the spread of the virus.
I know this is a grim way to open up the newsletter today. It weighs heavy to think about how much of this is a direct result of selfish decisions made to hold power rather than to actually protect the American people.
And remember, even when we get a vaccine, there will still be so much more work to do before we can even think about “normal” (whatever that even is anymore).
No guest features this week, so here are some highlights:
Ahead of Thanksgiving next week, it might be time to finally reexamine the myth of the holiday, especially given how both COVID and racial inequities have disproportionately impacted Native Americans.
The Fresh Prince reunion debuted on HBO Max this week, and WOW. Not only was it everything for fans of the show, but it was emotional and real.
Saudi Arabia is set to host the G20 Summit this weekend, despite its human rights abuses. Alia al-Hathloul, sister of Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul who’s been held in jail for two years without trial, spoke to France 24 this week and urged leaders to pressure Saudi Arabia to release her sister.
Spotify launched a new initiative called “Sawtik” to celebrate and amplify the voices of emerging unsigned female artists in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Godfather III was never the movie that its predecessors were in the trilogy, but it looks like Francis Ford Coppola is going to release a new version of the movie (what he calls his “true vision” for the film). Check out the trailer here.
There is a dangerous and alarming crackdown in Egypt targeting the staff of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a leading human rights organization in the country.
A really horrific report was released this week which found that Australian special forces unlawfully executed 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians between 2006-2013.
Stacey Abrams deserves so much credit for leading the mobilization efforts that helped turn Georgia blue in the U.S. election. She spoke with The Cut about her future plans and how to sustain this movement.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Sint El Ew - Blu Fiefer
T.N.F.S. - Flipperachi
El Owal Fil Souk - Karim Enzo
Poker Face - Dareen
Afriquia - Mr. ID featuring Foulan, Rach Percu, and Idd Aziz
Ya Qalbi - Meryem Aboulouafa
Rise Up (Remix) - Maysa Daw featuring Djamil
Toi et Moi - Nassi
Baheb Fi Gharamak - Latifa
Taht El Ward - Bedouin Burger
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
pa’ que más - Yorghaki featuring Omar Koonze and Gus
I Wish - DaniLeigh featuring Ty Dolla $ign
Valle - DEVA
Ladrón - Lali featuring Cazzu
que te pedí// - Kali Uchis
Lotería - Prince Royce
Rhythm Is Gonna Get You - Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
Tua Raivinha - Ludmilla featuring Joey Montana and Cabrera
La Boda - Alex Duvall featuring Juan Guillermo
Oh Na Na - Agus Padilla
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Crazy - Hope Tala
Silver Tongue Devil - Masego featuring Shenseea
Lost In Your Light - Dua Lipa featuring Miguel
Oh My God - A Tribe Called Quest
Et si tu n’existais pas - Cäroline
The Ride - Drake
Pull Up - Isong
Hopeless Romantic (Remix) - Tomi Thomas featuring Stylo G
So You Know - Kelly Rowland
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
In blast-hit Beirut, 'invisible' elderly women face destitution - Ban Barkawi, Reuters
The United Nations and aid agencies said older women living alone made up almost one in 10 households in areas hit by the explosion, which wrecked swathes of Beirut, killed 200 people, injured thousands more and displaced 300,000.
Aid checks were given to families of the victims of the Beirut port blast ... but banks wouldn't cash them - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
More than three months after the Beirut port explosion, aid has been slow to reach some of those most affected, including the families of those killed in the blast.
Reconstructing the Beirut explosion - Forensic Architecture, Mada Masr
Mada Masr invited Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, to examine open-source information, including videos, photographs, and documents to help investigate the explosion.
Brutal Interruption: Life in the Aftermath of Disaster - Rita Kabalan, The Public Source
Photographer Rita Kabalan captures the disrupted lives of the Beirut Port explosion survivors in and around Karantina.
It's not just Lebanon's glass ceiling that needs tearing down, it's the whole building - Carmen Geha, The New Arab
“Lebanon's political system and its supporters are a threat to Lebanese women”
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Our Summer in Tunisia - Farah Abdessamad, Newlines Magazine
On memory and nostalgia in the time of COVID.
What’s in a name? How the legacy of slavery endures in Tunisia - Simon Speakman Cordall, The Guardian
Black people in the north African country suffer hardship and disadvantage, and many still carry the label of ‘liberated’ slaves.
NFL player looks to shed light on Palestinians’ plight - Larry Lage, Associated Press
Detroit Lions guard Oday Aboushi wants to use his place in sports and society by shedding light on the plight of Palestinians and promoting religious harmony as a Muslim with friends of different faiths.
A Moroccan Cop’s Battle Against Sexual Harassment — Including Her Own - Samia Errazzouki, Newlines Magazine
How #MeToo has been weaponized in the Maghreb.
Global streaming giants blow dust off Mideast music business - Aziz El Massassi, Agence France-Presse
The Arab music industry -- plagued by rampant piracy, free YouTube clips and dated channels -- is the new target for global streaming giants intent on bringing the outmoded business into the digital era.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
What the ‘Fresh Prince’ of the ’90s Tells Us About Race Now - Maria Cramer and Allyson Waller, The New York Times
A generation ago, sitcoms with largely Black casts were must-see TV, balancing humor and drama. Will the “Bel-Air” reboot resonate in the era of Black Lives Matter?
The Secret Sounds of “Song Exploder” - Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker
We tend to have no idea how music is made. For nearly seven years, one series has supplied some answers.
When ‘ER’s’ Dramatic Health Insurance Battles Became My Reality - Elizabeth Skoski, Medium
It’s been 25 years since the medical drama premiered, and little has changed about American health care.
Sade Saves - Danyel Smith, NPR
Liner notes from a lifelong soundtrack.
One Good Thing: The dark pop pleasures of Selena Gomez’s Rare - Emily VanDerWerff, Vox
This excellent album got lost in the 2020 chaos. Now is the perfect time to listen.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Abby Phillip Is Next-Gen CNN - Katherine Rosman, The New York Times
In an election dominated by fast-talking policy dudes, her deliberate commentary and context stood out.
Indigenous communities in Canada have already mastered non-police intervention - Luke Ottenhof, Mic
Indigenous-led services like Bear Clan Patrol have been operating across North America for centuries.
Some Brazilians long considered themselves White. Now many identify as Black as fight for equity inspires racial redefinition. - Terrence McCoy and Heloísa Traiano, The Washington Post
More people now see themselves as mixed than White; record numbers changed their race for this year’s municipal elections.
If you’re willing to see, the walls have something to say - Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
In Worcester, over 140 works of public art — mostly murals — offer a splattering of representation.
The Nigerian influence over the 2020 NBA draft - Martenzie Johnson, The Undefeated
A record number of Nigerian prospects in the draft is a sign of things to come.
Your Weekly Sample
In their song “Come On To Me” Major Lazer and Sean Paul sample “La Murga” by Willie Colón. Check it out!
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