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Guest Feature: Hanna Flint
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Egyptian writer and pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested on September 29, 2019 by Egyptian authorities on completely bogus charges of joining an illegal organization, receiving foreign funding, spreading false news, and misusing social media. After two and a half years of being held in pretrial detention, Alaa was sentenced to five years in prison.
In April 2022, Alaa went on a hunger strike to protest Egypt’s refusal to investigate violations he faced while in prison, and had also been refused consular visits by the British embassy (despite Alaa gaining British citizenship that same month).
He remains on a hunger strike, and just a few days ago began a full hunger and water strike. He does not have much time to live, all while being held in prison unjustly.
The international community is there right now in Egypt gathering for COP27 to talk about climate change impacts and commitments. But there can be no climate justice without human rights. Alaa must be freed.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Hanna Flint!
Hanna is a London-based film critic, culture commentator and author of mixed British-Tunisian heritage. Her reviews, features and interviews are featured regularly in Empire magazine, BBC Culture and The New Arab. She is a host of MTV Movies and co-hosts the weekly reviews podcast Fade To Black. Her debut book Strong Female Character, a movie-memoir-manifesto, has just been released in the UK and will be available globally from February 7, 2023.
Hanna does some absolutely incredible film and culture writing — two of my favorite pieces by her are these interviews with Cherien Dabis and May Calamawy, respectively. On social media, Hanna is unafraid in calling out orientalism in film and opportunities where Middle Eastern/North African/Southwest Asian actors and creatives could’ve — and should’ve — shined.
Getting Hanna to share some of her go-to music is a huge honor, and she does not disappoint:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Can I just say “Renaissance” album? When I traveled to Tunisia recently it was the only album I had downloaded to listen to offline on Spotify so when I was taking a six-hour bus from Tunis to Tozeur I had it on repeat. I couldn't get enough of the multilayered feel-good, dance-infused bops. “COZY” and “THIQUE” were my faves, but I love the playful range of vocal delivery and adlibs Beyonce offers to suit the cultural riffs on each track.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Joni Mitchell's “Little Green”. “Blue” album is my fave of all time and this is about her giving up her baby. As with all her music, her lyrics tell stories and this one is gentle, with hints of pathos in the melody but hope for a better life for the daughter she couldn't provide for. I can feel every bit of Joni's emotion so sometimes when I feel the need to cry I pop it on and let it all out.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Mardy Bum” by Arctic Monkeys. I moved from London to Doncaster at around 10 and soon started picking up the Yorkshire accent and lingo. Mardy is such a specific South Yorkshire phrase, for someone who is moody. I love artists who sing in their accents so Alex Turner's Sheffield lilt (not far from Donny) always makes me think fondly about my Northern background!
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Where to bloody start? I must know 1000s at this point. I swear so much general knowledge I had in my head has been replaced by song lyrics I've acquired over the years but I have such affection for ones that tell stories, especially by artists my Dad raised me on - Billy Bragg's “A New England”, Bruce Springsteen's “Brilliant Disguise”, Tracy Chapman's “For My Lover”.
One of my favorite song lyrics is from The Jam's “Down In The Tube Station at Midnight” from “All Mod Cons” album. It's about a guy getting mugged on the Underground on the way home - "they smelled of pubs, and Wormwood Scrubs and too many right-wing meetings" is a perfect description; it paints a clear picture of these English thugs that were running riot at the time of writing in Thatcher's Britain of the late 1970s.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
OK so for a very long time it was Moana's “Where You Are”. I love a Disney song and this is so peppy and motivational with gorgeous vocals. It makes me smile so hard. Then there's “Kill For Love” by The Chromatics - I love synth pop and the twinkling opening sets up the ethereal and dreamy vocals as the musical arrangement builds and builds with urgent texture. It makes me want to go on an impromptu road trip, driving shotgun in a car with the top down and my hands up, eyes closed and my hair blowing in the wind!
Big shout out to Hanna for joining and sharing her song selections! Most of Hanna’s songs are available on Spotify and will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure to follow Hanna on Twitter and PLEASE go buy/pre-order her book now!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Faqat Ala Bali - Gharam Electric
Habeet - Nour Khan featuring Sherif Abdelmeged
Bondia - Flenn
Mustaheel - Dana Salah
Min Elakher - L5VAV
Desert Woman - Felukah
Leli - Nour Harkati
Messi - Abo El Anwar featuring Dr. Mo3geza and Coolpix
Guidance - Neemz
Bandits - Tiiwtiiw featuring Mister You and BimBim
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
100 Mili - Ebony featuring LARINHX
MORENA - Madk!d featuring Polanskyy and Besako
Chiki Bombón - Estevie
Muy tarde - INE
Habla Claro - Queens Tafari
Mascarita - Tropa Magica
D’Cara (A Quien Le Voy A Mentir) - L Kimii
TU SABES DONDE VIVO - Mora
Be With You - Enrique Iglesias
El Gran Amor - Omar Quezada featuring Sr. Lyon
DUCATI - Le Coco
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) - Aaron Carter
Broke - Topaz Jones featuring Elujay
Warm (Remix) - K-Trap featuring Skepta
Rose Rouge - Jorja Smith featuring Joy Orbison
Luna Moth - Maya Hawke
Heat of the Moon - ELIZA
2 Sugar - Wizkid featuring Ayra Starr
Reminisce - Nas
Relationship - Headie One featuring Nej
ADAUGO - The Cavemen.
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon’s civil servants are leaving in droves. They won't be replaced soon - Richard Salame, L’Orient Today
The collapse of salary values has driven many skilled workers out of the public sector. But they aren’t being replaced. What’s happening on the inside, and are some vacancies more crucial than others?
In bankrupt Lebanon, locals mine bitcoin and buy groceries with tether, as $1 is now worth 15 cents - MacKenzie Sigalos, CNBC
To make ends meet in a financial system that no longer makes sense, some Lebanese are mining bitcoin or storing wealth using the cryptocurrency.
Producing miracles: Lebanese farmers unearth fresh stream of agricultural income - Rodayna Raydan, The New Arab
Exhausted by Lebanon's multitude of crises, farmers in Lebanon are managing to keep themselves afloat by shifting away from archaic agricultural techniques to more sustainable and innovative methods.
Cholera's return to Lebanon exposes clean water crisis - Tala Ramadan, Context
Water and sanitation services are buckling after years of economic meltdown, with many people unable to afford safe alternatives.
No Justice for the LGBTQI+ community in Lebanon - Fatima Shehadeh and Lama Sakr, Raseef22
Members of the LGBTQI+ community are among the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in Lebanon, as they are subjected to a great deal of systemic discrimination and abuse, both at home and across various aspects of public life, including in the judicial and legal system.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
A year of resistance and repression in one Sudanese town - Oscar Rickett, Middle East Eye
Protesters are still regularly taking to the streets of Gedarif, close to Sudan's eastern border, in defiance of the military. But the response has been brutal.
Lost Homes And Herds: The Anguish Of Nigeria’s Arab Community - Murtala Abdullahi, HumAngle
The Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad region has displaced many rural Shuwa Arabs and led to the loss of their ancestral livelihood of herding cattle.
Meet ‘Papa Joe,’ the Altadena gas station owner who sold $2-billion winning Powerball ticket - Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times
When Joseph Chahayed immigrated to Los Angeles from Syria in 1980, he envisioned a better life and a brighter future for his family. On Tuesday, he finally received some well-earned recognition, when his Altadena gas station was awarded a $1-million prize for selling the winning $2-billion Powerball ticket.
Jordan Is Running Out of Water, a Grim Glimpse of the Future - Karen Zraick, The New York Times
The small Middle Eastern nation is already one of the driest countries in the world and rising heat, coupled with a growing population, is making things much worse.
These young Saudis spoke up on social media. Then they disappeared - Dania Akkad, Middle East Eye
In spring 2021, Saudi authorities seized at least 14 people who had used anonymous accounts to dissent. Many are still unaccounted for. This is the story of three “May detainees”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Aaron Carter was the millennium’s bubblegum bad boy – and the victim of a rapacious music industry - Emma Garland, The Guardian
As a teen heartthrob, Carter seemed to have it all. But like many poster kids of his generation, success came with a dark side. Carter died last Saturday at age 34.
‘Her Loss’ Is A Misfire That Drake Will Hopefully Learn From - Mosi Reeves, Rolling Stone
With 21 Savage reduced to a supporting role, The LP plays like a concept record about refusing to grow up, and not in a fun way.
‘Going into music, I wasn’t afraid of anything’: How teenage runaway Rema became a global superstar - Christine Ochefu, The Guardian
Evident in the hysteria that trails him on a visit to London, the Nigerian singer has become an international star. He explains his journey from teenage runaway to working with Selena Gomez.
Robert Beatty Is Your Favorite Artist’s Favorite Album Designer - Allison Hussey, Pitchfork
His psychedelic visions appear on album covers for everyone from Tame Impala to U.S. Girls to The Weeknd.
Rami Afifi's Art Centers Around Palestine and Pop-Culture Nostalgia - Camillia Kazem, Hypebeast
The artist reflects on his inspirations, projects and cultural heritage.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Pandemic is Dead, Long Live the Pandemic - Julia Doubleday, The Gauntlet
President Biden promised to end the pandemic; then, he presided over 700,000 deaths
The Case Against the Twitter Apology - Jill Lepore, The New Yorker
Our twenty-first-century culture of performed remorse has become a sorry spectacle.
Maura Healey wins governor’s race, as women overcome long tradition of white male political dominance - Emma Platoff and Matt Stout, The Boston Globe
Maura Healey, a former civil rights attorney and professional basketball player who vaulted to the national stage by suing Donald Trump and corporate giants, decisively won the race for Massachusetts governor on Tuesday, seizing the office back for Democrats on a historic night that saw women forcefully overcome a centuries-long tradition of white male political dominance.
Magic rookie Paolo Banchero and the NBA: Records, respect and bringing ‘cheat code’ to life - Joe Vardon, The Athletic
Banchero, 19, was the No. 1 pick of the 2022 draft, and he is the centerpiece of the Orlando Magic’s rebuild. A month into his pro career (counting training camp), he is off to a historic start.
Nigerians impacted by flooding need action – climate action - Arese Sylvester, gal-dem
Extreme flooding has killed hundreds of Nigerians and displaced millions. Without concrete climate action, things will only get worse.