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Guest Feature: Joseph Gedeon
No parent should ever have to bury their child. The United States does more to protect guns than its own children — do not ever tell me a person or a party is “pro-life” when they do absolutely nothing to prevent mass shootings. The complete lack of action is a choice and a willful decision made by policymakers. This tweet by Sana Saeed of AJ+ hits this point home:
I don’t know that I have the right words or any words to describe the feelings I’ve had this week, the pain and grief and frustration. What I do want to share are stories about the community in Uvalde, Texas, which are all under the “Other Reads” section, and these two Twitter threads:
1. On the need to address the root of the gun violence problem: the Constitution. A great thread by Boston Globe columnist Abdallah Fayyad:
2. Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, made an impassioned plea before the team’s playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. Kerr and his family have a particularly unique and tragic connection to gun violence and murder. Writer and journalist Dr. Maytha Alhassan details that connection and history here:
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Joseph Gedeon!
Joseph is currently a reporter at Politico. He was born in Los Angeles to a Palestinian dad and an Egyptian mom (“with some Armenian in her'“), and moved to Montreal when he was 11. He’s also lived in Dubai, Ottawa, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and currently the Washington DC area. Fun fact: Joseph’s also trilingual and can speak English, French, and Arabic.
Music is such a big part of Joseph’s life – he would make sure he was the designated driver just so he could control the aux while everyone was “unbothered.” Joseph’s headphones are an extension of him. When he used to work overnight security shifts during college, Joseph would listen to albums on albums that he would burn onto CDs.
Joseph is probably one of the most supportive people you’ll find in the community. He’s always looking to big up his colleagues and peers, and he’s incredibly genuine with the way in which he shares praise. Joseph is also a board member for the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) doing phenomenal work for media professionals and coverage of our communities and the region more broadly. But y’all, it’s Joe’s go-to songs that do it because…well, take a look for yourselves!:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
These days I’ve been gravitating back to the artists I’ve always been into. I listen to “On The Low” by Burna Boy almost daily and it’s perfect…the vibes, everything…it never gets old or boring. Same thing with “Stay” by melvitto. Another one is “Mbangu te” by Ya Levis…but his whole catalogue is top tier.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I don’t know what it is about “Angels” by The xx but it gets me in my soul every time, since the first time I randomly came across it years ago. “My Side” by Iophiile & NSTASIA and “Mo Reala” by Zaytoven featuring Future are my songs for a late night drive when I'm in the zone. “Menak wla Meni” by Inez speaks to me too.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
When I first moved to Montreal when I was 11 years old, one of my cousins picked me up listening to “Apocalypse” by Wyclef Jean and putting it on brings me back to that time of change in my life. I bought my first car for $400 cash, and when I would drive it home from a shisha night or a late-night pick-up soccer game I’d listen to “What They Do” by The Roots. During my overnight shifts, I'd listen to “Another Reflection” by Nujabes which always made me nostalgic about God knows what. I moved to New York when I got my first real journalism job and I’d listen to “Better Give U Up” by FKJ with my headphones on while walking to work. When I got laid off from my first real journalism job, I would listen to the same song on my way out the building.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
My inner voice tells me I know the words to every song I’ve ever listened to more than twice but I’ll keep it simple. “Hustler’s Muzik” by Lil Wayne, easily.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Dang, there are tooooo many options for this one! On my nights out I’m probably listening to “Pilote” by PLK featuring Hamza, “Be Honest” by Jorja Smith featuring Burna Boy, and “ReYup” by Travis Porter in the car. In the late night on my way to the next spot I’m probably on “Element” by Pop Smoke. I’m not sitting down when “Drogba (Joanna)” by Afro B comes on. My workout song is without a doubt “Back” by Jeezy featuring Yo Gotti.
Big shout out to Joseph for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Joseph’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure you check out Joseph’s incredible work and follow him on Twitter!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Dreams in Kufi - Soof
Hbibi Malou - Oualid featuring Melisa Carolina and Janno
Achfa - Fouzi Torino featuring Didine Canon 16
La7za - Ghaliaa
For9a Saeeda - Hafs
Both Sides Of You - Emaan
Distance - The C!rcle
Ya Ibahri - Soolking
Aatik Eyouni - Rola Azar
after everything - Nadine
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Plata - Vanessa RD featuring Gailen La Moyeta
Jefa - Cazzu
Hubo Algo - Alex Ferreira featuring Vanessa Zamora
La Bachata - Manuel Turizo
Dance For You - Empress Of
Duelo - Nino Augustine
Y Ahora - Kiko el Crazy
Palo Santo - Sofía Reyes
Paragua - Akim featuring Maffio
Dominicana - Tego Calderon
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
I Got It - Ogi
Maria - CKay featuring Silly Walks Discotheque
Hold You - TOME featuring Yaba Buluku Boyz
Who Do You Think You Are - Spice Girls
2:30AM - Kay9ine
Can’t Complain - JUICE MENACE
Wimbledon - Free Party
Le Game - Thaïs Lona
Your Other Life - Lord Huron
Home By Now - MUNA
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon's opposition MPs now need to prove their victory not only symbolic - Dario Sabaghi, Middle East Eye
Thirteen candidates inspired by the 2019 protest movement have been elected, making them the fifth largest bloc in parliament.
Lebanon’s independents disrupt political order - Raya Jalabi, Financial Times
Success of newcomers in election signals shift in a country long dominated by entrenched elites.
How the Lebanese diaspora voted in constituencies where it carries the most weight - Salah Hijazi, L’Orient Today
The protest movement and independent candidates received the best results in the Emirates and in France.
“Like a Prison”: Lebanon’s General Security Makes Passport Renewal a Nightmare - Yara El Murr, Christina Cavalcanti, Layla Yammine, The Public Source
Getting a passport in Lebanon was once a smooth and fast process. But over the past two years, requirements to renew one’s Lebanese passport have changed, often unannounced.
Making voting more accessible in Lebanon: It’s not that difficult - Mohamad El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
With elections now over, Lebanon is still grappling with its inaccessible polling stations.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Saving the sounds of an ancient city - Siobhán O'Grady, Frank Hulley-Jones, Sarah Hashemi, Emma Talkoff, and Sima Diab, The Washington Post
As Cairo expands, these are the sounds that could fade away.
Iraq is facing an ecological disaster - The New Arab
Once known for its fertile lands and lush agriculture, Iraq is facing an impending climate crisis as drought, incessant sand storms and scorching heat, compounded by a failing government, promise a difficult summer.
Tunisia's first LGBTQ play lifts curtain on hidden violence - Kaouther Larbi, Agence France-Presse
It's the first queer play to be staged in Tunisia -- director Essia Jaibi's latest work aims to challenge conservative attitudes and deal with "a reality that we pretend not to see".
How a decade of war destroyed Syria's farmlands - Harun al-Aswad, Middle East Eye
Cluster bombs, mines and other remnants of war are a daily danger for Syrian farmers as well as leaving a toxic legacy that could contaminate the soil for decades.
An ever-darkening shadow: How the war in Yemen is destroying mental wellbeing - Haifa Almadhgy, The New Arab
Yemen's war has devastated the country, destroying agricultural land, infrastructure, and livelihoods and claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. Perhaps less considered is the impact it has had on mental health, especially of the youth.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Shkoon's album 'FIRAQ' gets to their roots, fusing Arabic folklore and German techno - Emily Feng, Linah Mohammad, and Kathryn Fox, NPR
NPR talks with the German-Syrian duo Shkoon, who are returning to their roots with the release of their new album FIRAQ.
Mafi Mafi (Khod): A story of political discontent and artistic collaboration in Egypt and Lebanon - Kim Makhlouf, L’Orient Today
Around 9 months ago, Egyptian musician Ramy Essam paired up with Lebanese filmmaker and video journalist Tariq Keblaoui to create Mafi Mafi (Khod), a controversial song challenging the current ruling class in Lebanon, released just a few days before its parliamentary elections took place on May 15.
Omar Offendum revives the memory of New York's Little Syria through music - Farah Abdessamad, The New Arab
The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. At the turn of the 20th century, many Syrians came to settle in New York, spawning a thriving community. But what was a burgeoning community has been largely forgotten, until now.
‘The more they ban me, the more people want me’: Tokischa’s hardcore rap draws fans, and critics - Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
Tokischa’s raps — set to trap, dembow and reggaetón beats— are wildly explicit celebrations of sexual freedom, drugs and party culture. Odes, as she says in one song, to “divine filth.”
In Praise of Bawdy Words: When Bad Language Makes Good Works - Youssef Rakha, New Lines Magazine
Arab society expects its writers to use tasteful language and behave respectably, but not all comply. Foul phrases may horrify some readers, but the result is often great literature.
📚 Other Reads 📚
‘Everybody is crying’ — Uvalde school massacre ripples through little towns on Highway 90 - Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News
"To the rest of the world, “Uvalde” means something specific now, and it always will. But to those of us who grew up in the little towns nearby, what “Uvalde” used to mean will never go away."
What we know about the victims of the school shooting in Texas - Moriah Balingit, Beth Reinhard, María Luisa Paúl, Holly Bailey, Karina Elwood, Nick Anderson, Marissa J. Lang, Perry Stein, Justin Wm. Moyer, Ian Shapira, and Joanna Slater, The Washington Post
The names of those slain by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., on Tuesday — including at least 19 children and two teachers — were slowly emerging Wednesday, as the grief-stricken community of 16,000 about 80 miles west of San Antonio tried to process what happened.
Seeing America, Again, in the Uvalde Elementary-School Shooting - Jessica Winter, The New Yorker
Nineteen children and two adults were murdered in Texas. This is the country that gun-rights advocates have chosen.
America, God take the guns from thee - Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
Uvalde is the 213th mass shooting of the year, the 27th school shooting this year.
The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps - John Sudworth, BBC News
Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region.