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Guest Feature: Andrea May Sahouri
Well, everyone, barring anything extraordinary, this will be the final edition of the newsletter for 2021! I am taking a break for the next two weeks because, after the year that we’ve had, I could really use one.
What an absolutely wild year, in many senses of the word “wild”. Many of us came into this year truly hoping it would be better than 2020. Yet here we are, in some cases worse off. This year has challenged us too many times, pushed many of us to the brink of our emotional and physical stability. And every week, it truly felt like we were talking about how the Lebanese lira hit a new low (which it did again this week).
There were many high points to this year, no doubt. Many of you I’m sure experienced something positive and fulfilling in your personal lives, and I don’t mean at all to dismiss that.
Looking back, though, there were plenty of moments that challenged our capacities to process our lives, our beliefs, our systems, our existence. We advocated tirelessly to revolutionize and revamp everything from the ground up to make life more equitable and inclusive — and we’re still advocating. We risked everything to hold people in power accountable for their harmful and dangerous actions. And, of course, we continued to navigate COVID and its many variants. All of this, among so much else of course.
I sincerely hope 2022 brings all of you happiness, good health, success, and a lot of love. I really want to thank all of the illustrious guests that have graced the newsletter this year. And from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate y’all rocking with “Sa’alouni El Nas” this year and for all of the support you’ve shown just by reading the stories, listening to the playlists, sharing the newsletter, and just subscribing to this.
Much love, fam.
Okay friends, I am so excited to introduce our final guest feature for 2021: Andrea May Sahouri!
Andrea is currently a Social Justice Reporter at the Des Moines Register in Iowa, where she’ has covered dozens of racial justice protests, amplified numerous voices within of Black and Brown communities, and has worked on both criminal justice and police accountability investigations. Company wide, Andrea recently helped launch Gannett’s 11th employee resource group — MENA Forward — with the goal to increase MENA representation, education, and understanding in journalism/the media.
Other than journalism, music, food, culture, art, books, traveling, conversation, coffee & tea, being outdoors, Michigan & Detroit sports, and spending quality time with her family/ friends are just some of the things that make Andrea very happy.
Andrea is it, y’all. I mean, she is truly someone willing to do anything and everything it takes to report the truth and hold people accountable. Andrea’s also a fellow audiophile, and in learning more about some of her go-to songs I realize how much we gravitate toward similar artists and genres:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I love music. I have to start with emphasizing how much music has played a role in my life, and a lot of different types of music. (The only genres I absolutely can’t get behind are EDM and heavy metal.)
Some of my earliest memories are of my dad making me and my brother CDs with songs like Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks”, D12’s “My Band”, Outkast’s “Roses”, and some classic rock like Santana and U2. He’d also throw in some Britney Spears.
When the first iPod was released, my dad gifted me one with Eminem’s first four albums already downloaded from LimeWire. And in middle school and high school, I was always going to concerts, and I was always tasked with creating the warmup CDs for my volleyball games.
So these questions are a bit hard for me.
That being said (lol), my favorite songs at the moment are anything Tems. “Higher”, “The Key”, “Trouble”, “Found”, “Essence”— all fire. Many of her songs were my summer jams. (I’m still in denial that it’s winter.) The reason why is because I love learning more about the history of Afrobeats, so for me Tems is an example of how far the genre has grown. The same goes for reggaeton, which is one of my favorite genres as well.
Don Toliver’s “Get Throwed” and “2AM” are also on repeat at the gym (among others from this album, but those two are my fav), and Snoh Aalegra, Nas, and Isaiah Rashad’s new albums remain current favorites too.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Anything Taylor Swift and old school Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, and Paramore.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
As an Arab, anything Fairuz— around my house, if I woke up to Fairuz playing, that meant it was cleaning day.
As specifically Palestinian, anything DAM. They were my introduction to Palestinian hip-hop.
As and someone who was born and raised in Michigan, anything Big Sean, Eminem, Aaliyah, or Aretha Franklin will always remind me home.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Lexii Alijai’s posthumous EP “Come Back Soon.” I am intentionally highlighting her music because she would have been a force in the hip hop scene. A Twin Cities native who died in 2020 from an accidental overdose. I’m a big Mac Miller fan as well, so losing talent and art like this hits me like a brick.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Ooof—- there’s so many. Truly. But at the moment I’m really fucking with “No Friends In The Industry” by Drake, “Otro Trago” by Sech, “Diamond” by Smoke DZA and Ab-Soul, and “10AM/Save The World” by Metro Boomin’ and Gucci Mane.
Big shout out to Andrea for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Andrea’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Follow Andrea on Twitter, check out her work at the Des Moines Register, and shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re trying to connect! — Andrea shared that she is a “true fire sign and an extrovert” so naturally “loves meeting new people”.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Dayyana - Omar Kamal featuring Abdel Basset Hamouda
Mehbooba - F1rstman featuring DYSTINCT
Vendeur de rêve - Imen Es
Sit Al Banat - MarSimba featuring Sheme
I Wanna Run Away - R3HAB featuring Wafia and Mr Eazi
Ya Yema - Bouchra Elm
Ghareeba - Lella Fadda
Khamsa Nezam - Ali Loka
Ma Nabni - NORDO featuring Tagne and Stormy
Haylouh - Gawaher
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
787 - Lunay
Mujer De Fuego - Hispana
Su Payita (Gramos) - Bad Gyal
Poema - Las Villa
Tilin - Crazy Design featuring Ceky Viciny
Cosas De La Vida - Julio Iglesias
Todo lo que tengo - Vic Mirallas featuring Juancho Marqués
Luna - Bella Dose featuring DaniLeigh
50/50 - La Ross Maria
Si Te Preguntan - Rey Ruiz
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Emiliana - CKay
Again - Jastin Martin
START SH!T - G.L.A.M.
FLEXIN - Henri B. Styles
You & I - Dabeull featuring Holybrune
Baby Riddim - Fave
Succession Freestyle S1 — E6 - Kaede
Ultimate Dinner Party - Deyah
B. D’OR - Burna Boy featuring WizKid
Changes - BOSCO
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Amid a rush to register for cash assistance programs, lack of documents presents a hurdle for some applicants - Rana Tabbara, L’Orient Today
Since registration opened for a pair of long-awaited social assistance programs on Nov. 30, more than 236,000 applications had been submitted as of Wednesday evening, according to data tracked by the government’s IMPACT platform.
Santa closed: in Beirut, crisis snuffs out Christmas spirit - Jean-Marc Mojon, Agence France-Presse
In barely two years of a brutal economic collapse, the lights have gone out on Beirut's commercial heyday and power shortages have left the city's streets shrouded in gloom.
The Tragic Past of Lebanese Jews: Better Days Ahead? - Mariam Seifeddine, Daraj
Nassim Levy was forced to flee Lebanon for France in 1976. He no longer uses his Lebanese passport, as he is today a French citizen, yet always kept his mother tongue close his heart. He even taught his wife. "We used to listen a lot to Fairuz."
‘No looking back’: As economy crumbles, Lebanese turn to Cyprus - Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera
About 12,000 Lebanese have moved to small island over the past year to secure livelihoods and find better economic opportunities.
Women in Lebanon struggle with reproductive rights as birth control pills become unaffordable and abortion remains illegal - Tala Ramadan, L’Orient Today
In Lebanon, birth control pills have become exorbitantly expensive, presenting yet another barrier to women's health. Data obtained by L’Orient Today from the Pharmacists' Syndicate shows that the average cost of the pill has risen 750 percent since 2019, with one popular brand, Yaz, increasing in price from LL21,000 to LL190,000.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Why I Stopped Writing About Syria - Asser Khattab, New Lines Magazine
Years of covering Syria's humanitarian catastrophe left me broken during lockdown.
This was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014 - Khaled Quzmar, +972 Magazine
Instead of holding perpetrators accountable, Israel is criminalizing the work that organizations like mine are doing to protect Palestinian children's rights.
Invasion Generation: Iraq’s children of war come of age with little hope - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
For much of the world, Iraq is a distant tragedy. But for its young, it’s a restless, unreconciled home.
'I can be killed at any time': Police abuse in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara - Oscar Rickett, Middle East Eye
Journalists and activists in Laayoune, Western Sahara, tell MEE about living with police surveillance, intimidation and abuse.
New York's Little Syria in peril of destruction by developers - Joshua Longmore, The National
Most of what is left of once-thriving quarter could soon disappear.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Katelina Eccleston Is Giving a Decolonized History Lesson in Reggaeton - Michaela Vargas Caro, Harper’s Bazaar
The historian and podcast host is a trusted authority on the music genre.
Iraqi singer’s music still brings split society together - Samya Kullab and Salar Salim, Associated Press
“This is the magic of Sajida Obeid, an Iraqi singer of Roma origins. For older Iraqis, the 63-year old is a symbol of a bygone golden era. To the young, her upbeat love songs and subtly racy lyrics have become a channel for self-expression in a largely conservative society.”
A bittersweet escape for Afghans from a music school gone silent - Nabih Bulos and Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times
“We’re excited, happy, lucky that we got our community out of Afghanistan, to give them the opportunity to chase their dreams and preserve musical tradition”
Nicki Nicole Talks ‘Parte de Mí,’ Argentinian Trap Scene & Christina Aguilera Collab - Martin Cordova, Remezcla
“Though Nicki may be a part of the second wave of Argentinian trap, she is definitely at the head of the Argentinian takeover of the region’s reggaeton scene.”
Vicente Fernández Knew His Way Around Your Broken Heart - Eduardo Medina, The New York Times
First breakups. Final goodbyes. For generations, Mr. Fernández, who died on Sunday, provided a soundtrack for moments of anguish and heartache, and a pathway to healing.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The online plant community has a hoarding problem - Jessica Lucas, Input Mag
Fueled by pandemic isolation and social media one-upmanship, some houseplant collectors have gotten out of control.
‘They have a “fight” mentality’: Haitians seek safety and stability in Boston, with the help of volunteers - Jazmine Ulloa, The Boston Globe
In a US immigration system that tends to string people along with precarious lifelines, advocates say, newly arrived Haitians are among the most vulnerable, as families have minimal chances of pleading their cases and are often pushed out of the country, through deportation, or leave out of desperation.
The art and the science: How Stephen Curry became the NBA’s 3-point king - Marcus Thompson II, The Athletic
Stephen Curry's formal inauguration is still to come, but a concoction of art and science have already made him the NBA's 3-point king.
On the Obligation to Prevent People From Dying Alone - Ken Budd, The Washington Post Magazine
Ken Budd spent months volunteering in a hospice program. Here’s what he learned about people’s final moments.
Who The Census Misses - Jasmine Mithani and Alex Samuels, FiveThirtyEight
Large groups of people have always fallen through the cracks of its racial categories — often by design.