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Guest Feature: Jennifer Hijazi
On Tuesday, 53 Lebanese, regional, and international rights groups and individuals, as well as 62 survivors and families of victims and firefighters, called on the UN Human Rights Council to launch an investigation into the Port of Beirut blast that took place August 4, 2020.
This is the largest push to-date for an independent international probe into what happened almost a year ago, and includes major organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The domestic Lebanese-led investigation has been flawed from the start, with absolutely zero accountability and and transparency. Political leaders of Lebanon continue to enjoy the impunity that they’ve been so accustomed to, while survivors and families of victims have no justice, no closure at all.
I highly encourage everyone to take a look at this Twitter thread from Aya Majzoub, the Lebanon and Bahrain researcher for Human Rights Watch (and follow her on Twitter). She breaks down this call for international action and puts this into the larger context of everything going on in Lebanon.
We’re close to one year from that horrific moment, and at this point there should be an international investigation since the Lebanese ruling elite aren’t getting us anywhere.
Okay friends, let’s go ahead and get right into it. I am so excited to introduce our guest feature for this week: Jennifer Hijazi!
Jennifer is a Lebanese American journalist living in Washington DC and currently working at Bloomberg Law as a senior reporter covering air pollution and climate change. Before that, she built up the climate change litigation beat at E&E News and worked at PBS NewsHour as a news assistant and poetry reporter after relocating to the east coast from her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, where she got her Masters' in Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies. Jennifer was an actor and singer for most of her life before finding journalism.
I mean, check out that résumé! Is there anything Jennifer CAN’T do? And fun fact: singing is something that runs in her family. While we wait for her to drop her Soundcloud link, check out some of the incredible go-to songs Jennifer chose for this week’s newsletter, all influenced by her life experiences:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I've recently had the synth-y, retro goodness of The Midnight on repeat when I wind down the day, particularly "Lost Boy." Also danced around my kitchen to Olivia Rodrigo's "good 4 you" at least three times this week; as a child of the 90s with a thing for Paramore I highly recommend.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I am firmly in my feels most of the time so there are a few here, but the one really getting me lately is "Your Best American Girl" by Mitski. It starts off so tender and sad, and finishes off with a fierceness. "Cosmic Love" by Florence and the Machine and Yasmine Hamdan's "Beirut" also make the list. And if you're a sucker for movie soundtracks like I am-- do yourself a favor and get lost in "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," particularly the theme of the title track. An absolute stunner of a score.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Cuentan Los Cerros” by Vox Urbana takes me back to hot, summer nights in my hometown. There's nothing quite like dry desert heat, a dusty dance floor, cold beer and cumbia. Listening to Neko Case--one of my favorite shows I saw in Tucson--can take me home too, especially "Night Still Comes."
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
"Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. My dad and I would listen to this song so much when I was growing up. We'll still belt it out everytime it plays in the car. "Emmylou" by folk duo extraordinaire First Aid Kit is also seared into my brain forever and ever.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
The second the beginning notes of Nancy Ajram's "Badna Nwalee el Jaw" ring out I will drop literally anything I am doing and head straight for the nearest dance floor, absolutely no questions asked. I also rediscovered the joys of Chromeo when thinking on this list--"Jealous" is a BOP.
Big shout out to Jennifer for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Jennifer’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And definitely follow her on Twitter and check out some of her incredible reporting!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Antenne - Bashar Murad featuring Tamer Nafar
Wayaya - Azira
Luxury Rap (Remix) - Man from Sudan featuring Silent E, Soulja, and Ramey Dawoud
ALG 63 - L’Algérino
Nefsi - Felukah featuring The Synaptik
Ha Habibi - Kadim al Sahir
Elly Yemshy 3ady - Dalia
Wala Ghalta - Wezza Montaser
Tatik Ya Tatik - Ahmed Al Sokne
Bhor Lbalia - Sonia Noor
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Probando Freestyle - Gailen La Moyeta
FUMETEO - Feid
Cumbia Callejera - Alberto Pedraza featuring Sante Fe Klan
SUBIENDO - Becky G featuring Dalex
TESTIGO - Ana Mancebo
Poblado (Remix) - Crissin featuring KAROL G, J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Natan & Shander, and Totoy El Frio
Me Dieron la Clave - Vieja Trova Santiaguera
Teteo (Remix) - El Fecho RD featuring You R
Es Una Bola - Lady Laura featuring Isaac Delgado
Miedo - Amenazzy featuring Rochy RD
🎼 Other Music 🎼
We Made It - H.E.R.
Soundgasm - Rema
Blouse - Clairo
No, No, No - Eve featuring Damian Marley and Stephen Marley
Wow - Tion Wayne
Don’t Stand So Close To Me - The Police
Sauce - Naïka
Bal Tout - Steves J. Bryan
Rollin Stone - Little Simz
Crazy (Mi Corazon) - Alicia Keys
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanese banks swallow at least $250m in U.N. aid - Timour Azhari, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Unfavorable dollar exchange rates mean refugees and poor Lebanese got less aid, even as prices of essentials soared amid an economic crisis.
‘She just vanished’: Ethiopian domestic workers abused in Lebanon - Zecharias Zelalem, Al Jazeera
“For decades Ethiopians have flocked to Lebanon in search of work. But many find a cycle of abuse that’s hard to escape.”
How the economic crisis exposed weaknesses in Électricité de Zahlé’s model - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
For years, Électricité de Zahlé has been touted as a rare success story in Lebanon’s energy sector. But the current crisis has exposed the fragility of EDZ’s model.
Lebanon is running out of gas — literally - Sarah Dadouch, The Washington Post
The government doesn’t have the dollars to import gasoline and the Lebanese are now trapped in endless lines waiting.
How Beirut's bookshops kept love of literature alive during war, boom and bust - AJ Naddaff, Middle East Eye
Once a meeting ground for artists, several of Beirut's bookshops have closed, replaced by banks, high-rises or clothing shops thanks to skyrocketing rents and a severe economic crisis.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
War reduced parts of Gaza to rubble. It’s his job to take it away - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
For Mahmoud Abu Jubbah, who along with his brother and other members of the family runs a concrete-crushing operation in the east Gaza neighborhood of Shujaiyyah, it is time to work.
Algeria's problems won't be solved at the ballot box. Here's why - Yasmina Allouche, The New Arab
Algerian politics is caught in a struggle between loyal proponents of the old regime, and an uncompromising protest movement.
My Father Was Never There. My Father Never Left Me. - Mona Awad, Vogue
Egyptian novelist Mona Awad writes about her relationship with her father.
Protests over police violence spread through Tunisian capital - Simon Speakman Cordall, The Guardian
Demonstrators angry over footage showing officers stripping and beating man and death of another in custody.
I Love Wasta and Hate Standing in Line, but I am Poor - Ahmed Naji, The Markaz Review
After surviving an Egyptian prison and obtaining asylum in the United States, Ahmed Naji wonders what else he has to do to get ahead.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Inside The World Of Palestinian Artist Malak Mattar - Nasri Atallah, GQ Middle East
Discover the tenacity of young Gaza-born artist Malak Mattar, who understands the complexities of hope and finding solace in the colours of her work.
Meet Mahmood – Italy’s answer to Bad Bunny - Roisin O’Connor, The Independent
The Italian son of Egyptian and Sardinian parents came to global attention when he placed second at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, but there’s so much more to him than meets the eye. He speaks to Roisin O’Connor about his new album, Ghettolimpo, and why he’s still avoiding labels.
Yendry Is the Limitless Pop Star of Tomorrow - Isabelia Herrera, Pitchfork
In this interview, the Dominican-Italian artist talks about confronting racism, singing on X Factor, and finding inspiration in everything from Beyoncé to bachata to Aphex Twin.
The Limitations Of 'Latinidad': How Colorism Haunts 'In The Heights' - Monica Castillo, NPR
Film critic Monica Castillo reflects on the glaring absence of Afro-Latino actors from the new screen adaptation of In the Heights and how colorism still affects Latino representation on screen.
Here’s How White and Male the Execs of the Music Business Are - Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone
“The music business has a workforce crisis on its hands, as the leadership ranks communicate to non-white individuals that they do not belong,” USC Annenberg’s researchers wrote.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Juneteenth and the meaning of Black liberation in Boston - Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
As we celebrate the freedom of enslaved people in America, we consider what it means to be Black and free.
Cindy and Dayana - Cindy Carcamo, This American Life
Cindy and Dayana Carcamo are close. But recently, they’ve been struggling with this thing that happened when they were very young. For the first part of their childhood, they didn’t know each other at all.
The NBA’s Roving Role Player Hopes to Settle Down in Brooklyn - Sopan Deb, The New York Times
The Nets’ Jeff Green has played for 10 teams, two shy of the record. “It confuses me, but it isn’t frustrating,” Green said, adding, “I go out and just do the work.”
This L.A.-based artist founded an Instagram community that uplifts Black men in the plant world - Claire Reid, Los Angeles Times
Artist Nelson ZêPequéno founded @blackmenwithgardens, an Instagram community that amplifies the voices and stories of Black men who garden and care for and enjoy plants.
Why the Mexico City Metro Collapsed - Natalie Kitroeff, Maria Abi-Habib, James Glanz, Oscar Lopez, Weiyi Cai, Evan Grothjan, Miles Peyton, and Alejandro Cegarra, The New York Times
A Times investigation shows the serious construction flaws and political pressure behind a tragedy that threatens two of Mexico’s most prominent figures.