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Guest Feature: Diana Elbasha
Tomorrow marks one year since protests began in Lebanon (aka thawra). What have we accomplished? What has changed? Short answer: nothing (because none of the demands have been met), and it’s gotten much worse. Reuters has a solid overall piece where they spoke with several people and asked them to reflect on the last year in Lebanon. I could go on about this, but we have so much to cover.
Let’s go ahead and get right into it. This week, I’m so excited to welcome the next guest in the musical question series: Diana Elbasha!
Diana is a first generation Palestinian-American based in Washington DC. As an editor and audience strategist, Diana has run social accounts for and covered countless political events at NatGeo, Vox, NPR, and others; currently, she is a senior editor at Medium working to build and grow its new in-house publications. People can support her work by signing up for a Medium membership :)
Diana is a thoughtful and empathetic human being, and I appreciate her presence on Twitter and her perspective on the news of the day (and on life) so much. I am super grateful Diana dropped by to share a little bit about the music she listens to:
What is your favorite song right now?
What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Lately, "Count to Nine” by The Japanese House. A music magazine described it as 9 minutes of controlled chaos, which is correct.
Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Zahrat El Mada’en,” a song by the great Fairuz that fills me with both comfort and heartbreak. It’s a love song for Jerusalem. There are conflicting stories about it, but the version I like says it was performed for the first time just after the Six Day War in 1967, which is when my father’s family fled Palestine. More literally, the song reminds me of my Maryland home because my mom often played it in her car while I was growing up.
Name a song you know all the words to.
Every single track on Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.” (Okay if I have to pick one: “A World Alone.”) It remains one of my favorite albums of all time, and I really need her to bless us with more music already. There’s this Twitter account, @DidLorde, that posts daily whether she’s released her next album yet so we tortured fans can commiserate about how she’s been teasing us for three years.
Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“PARAD(w/m)E” by Sylvan Esso. It’s powerful. The video is so good, too.
Big shout out and thanks to Diana for joining and sharing her song selections! All of her songs will be included with this week’s playlist. And like Diana mentioned, please support her and sign up for a Medium membership! It’s worth every penny, and the content that the writers for Medium produce is fascinating.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern + North African artists) 🎧
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx + Hispanic artists) 🎤
¡párate ! - Alaina Castillo (Apple | Spotify)
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Love Me, Suffa - Michael Brun featuring Shirazaa (Apple | Spotify)
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Two revolutionaries, one year on - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
The October Revolution drew people from disparate backgrounds, fed up with the status quo in Lebanon for different reasons, and they have taken different trajectories over the year since. Taher Zoghbi and Sarah Lily Yassine are a case in point.
"My father worked so hard for us it killed him and now I'm working myself to death for my kids. I don't want this fate for my children."
Beirut’s migrant workers persist in the shadow of the blast - Angela Wells and Muse Mohammed, Al Jazeera
Lack of sustainable employment and safe shelter has exposed even more people to trafficking or abuse by their employers.
‘Call Me A Dreamer’: A Shattered Beirut Neighborhood Rebuilds - Vivian Yee, The New York Times
Many worry that a full recovery won’t be possible, but residents of one of Beirut’s most diverse and cosmopolitan areas are moving back in and trying to repair the damage from the August explosion.
Lebanon’s Loyalists - Mortada Alamine, Synaps Network
One year on, the Lebanese regime is as strong as ever, even as factions bicker, their followers descend into poverty, and the country falls apart. Mortada Alamine interviewed loyalists over months, to tackle this essential and overlooked part of the equation.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, and the Diaspora 🌎
One year on, Tunisia's #MeToo movement grapples with race - Ban Barkawi, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
In Tunisia, Black women continue to face unequal job prospects and are often subjected to sexual harassment.
‘It’s like Judgment Day’: Syrians Recount Horror of an Underreported COVID-19 Outbreak - Asser Khattab, Newlines Magazine
Syrians ravaged by war are now dying from a pandemic the government has downplayed.
Tracing my queer consciousness from Palestine to the US, and back again - Sa’ed Atshan, Mondoweiss
While an academic work on LGBTQ Palestinians, Sa'ed Atshan's "Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique," is also deeply personal account of coming of age between homophobia and Israel's occupation.
Devoted Palestinian son takes mother's body from hospital to bury her 'the way she asked me to - Lawahez Jabari and Saphora Smith, NBC News
When his mother died, Jihad and his siblings stole her body from the hospital after staff said they couldn’t release it to the family.
Mona Chalabi’s Week: Rewatching ‘Succession’ and Cooking ‘Disgusting’ Meals - Alisha Haridasani Gupta, The New York Times
Iraqi illustrator Mona Chalabi got through a self-imposed quarantine by binge-watching “The Duchess” and reading the graphic novel “Moms.”
🎶 Music, Culture, and the Arts 🎶
Is The Shade Room Too Toxic To Function? - Michael Blackmon, BuzzFeed News
The Instagram account quickly became one of the most prominent platforms in the celebrity gossip arena, but it has attracted criticism for the way it covers LGBTQ celebrities.
Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up for Black Women - Megan Thee Stallion, The New York Times
She’s not afraid of criticism, and “Protect Black women” should not be controversial.
Solange Knowles: Reflections on Stillness, Joy, and the Year That Changed Everything - Solange Knowles, Harper’s Bazaar
Like all of us, musician and artist Solange Knowles has been trying to make sense of these strange and conflicting times. So Harper’s Bazaar invited her to do so here, in her very own digital cover.
City Scenes: How Boston's DIY Hip-Hop Community Is Fending For Itself - Darien Carr, NPR
Many Boston venues are reluctant to book local talent, which has forced the city’s best rappers to find alternative spaces.
Nigerian singer Wizkid on finding positivity amid brutality - Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times
The 30-year-old star has strong political views, but he has kept them out of his new album, “Made in Lagos”
📚 Other Reads 📚
An Arrest in Canada Casts a Shadow on a New York Times Star, and The Times - Ben Smith, The New York Times
A top editor is now reviewing Rukmini Callimachi’s reporting on terrorism, which turned distant conflicts into accessible stories but drew criticism from colleagues.
503: Inside the COVID unit at the world’s largest women’s prison - Ko Bragg and Kate Sosin, The 19th
The Central California Women’s Facility quarantined prisoners with COVID-19 with those who never tested positive for the virus.
The news is driving you mad. And that’s why you can’t stop devouring it. - Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post
In 2020, channel-flipping has taken over our days, and doomscrolling is consuming our nights.
For the Navajo Nation, ‘Everything Takes Time,’ Including Voting - Maggie Astor, The New York Times
Post offices are few and far between on the reservation, and mail can take a week and a half to reach the county seat. In this year’s election, that has more profound implications than ever before.
In San Diego, Black Muslims are working to expand voting access in jails - Aysha Khan, Religion News Service
Pillars of the Community is hiring a team of pretrial inmates to register eligible voters from behind bars. The group’s leaders say it’s part of their faith as Muslims.
Your Weekly Sample
The Chemical Brothers, in their hit song “Galvanize”, sample Najat Aatabou song “Hadi Kedba Bayna”. Check it out!