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Guest Feature: Laila Mokhiber
Two mass shootings in the United States in less than a week. I thought about writing something much longer about what happened in Boulder, Colorado, the tragic loss of life, and our country’s inability and unwillingness to enact meaningful gun control laws. But it gets increasingly more frustrating, exhausting, and disheartening to keep talking about gun violence and not see any action take place at all to actually stop it.
If you’d like to play a small role and help donate any funds to the families and loved ones impacted by what took place in Boulder, here are some places that are providing assistance (thanks to Colorado Public Radio):
But, as I wrote last week, we have to do so much more than donate. We’re long past due for action.
Okay, y’all. We have an incredible member of the community to highlight. I am really excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Laila Mokhiber!
Laila is a fourth-generation Arab American of Lebanese and Palestinian ancestry whose family came by ships through Ellis Island. She was born and raised in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC to parents who fell in love through civil and human rights activism. Today, Laila works as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) USA's Director of Communications where she advocates for the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees by familiarizing Americans with their plight. In addition to her day job, she brings the DC community together to nerd out on Arab culture as an ambassador for Afikra, is board president of Open Roads Media, which focuses on conflict transformation, intercultural dialogue, and education through the innovative use of alternative media, and co-hosts the Latitude Adjustment Podcast, a show designed to inspire curiosity about misunderstood places, communities, and perspectives.
Laila is truly one of those people who does everything from her heart and helps connect people in the community so that we all succeed together. And her taste in music is really fun:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
My brother Anees' latest release: “Slip” (releases April 1st and you can pre-save here)! While it doesn't technically drop until April 1, when it does it'll be your fave too! Anees courageously relinquished a law career to pursue music full-time. Famous for free-styling to beats in his car, he makes healing hip hop with indie-pop vibes. His other tracks, “Maybe”, “Neverland Fly”, and “Brown Kid” are all dope, too.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Gosh, I must be a sentimental schmuck cuz every song puts me in my feels, but “Teach You - Acoustic” by Emily King, featuring Sara Bareilles came on as I contemplated my answer and so that's what I'm going with. These angelic soulstresses explain how to treat your lover and lately I re-play it ten times in a row before I move on to another track. “Jealous” by Labrinth will make you feel heartbroken even if you've never been. When I'm feeling in a mood and don't have the words, I go to the piano and play my feelings -- “Manha de Carnaval” has been doing it for me lately.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Define home! 8,000 instantly come to mind, Danny! Fairuz in the mornings makes me feel at home. But I was also raised on the widest range of genres imaginable, from flamenco to folk to Frank Zappa. “Un Amor” and basically anything by the Gipsy Kings cuz half our home videos are of my sister Lina and I dancing in tutus to these guitar legends. Most recently it's a song I've been interpreting on the keys with my pops on the drums. “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver is another Albert-Laila duet classic. Lastly, I'd say “Beautiful” by India.Arie because it was the anthem from my church camp days at the Antiochian Village, a place I'll forever call home.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Lullaby of Birdland” by Sarah Vaughan, a '50s jazz standard. I can even do the parts where she skats.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Rise Up” by Andra Day and Selma's Theme Song “Glory” by John Legend get me hyped to take to the streets and protest. In 2019 I organized for runners and refugees from Palestine to run a 250-mile relay in 5 days from NYC to DC to support U.S. humanitarian assistance for Palestine refugees. I followed these badasses in a 15 passenger van and every time we entered a new major city we rolled down the windows and blasted “Intro to Shampstep” by 47 Soul to make our presence heard and felt. Is anything more hype than dabke beats?
Big shout out to Laila for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Laila’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And check out Laila on Twitter and follow all of her incredible advocacy work!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Format DZ - Raja Meziane
Ya Njoum Elil - Gati
Sununu - Ruba Shamshoum
Drama - Jlove Rap featuring Mohammed Kareem
Flil kandor - Lemhllwess
Walou - Hamza El Fadly featuring Ily
Yahasra - Cheba Lima
Min Nazra - Rouwaida Attieh
Cartable - Mons
Samurai - Cairokee
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
RDMDA - Paloma Mami
DVD - KAROL G
Que Bueno Baila Usted - Oscar D’León
A Un Paso De La Luna (Remix) - Reik featuring Rocco Hunt and Ana Mena
Mírame - Alex Cuba featuring Gilberto Santa Rosa
nu love - Kirnbauer
La Despedida - Maximiliano Calvo featuring dani and Paco Soto
me tiene mal - Covi Quintana featuring Rafa Romera
Sentimental - Kablito
Doncella - Zion & Lennox
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Must Be Nice - Joyce Wrice featuring Masego
What You Need (Original) - The Weeknd
Same Old - ENNY
Connected - Stereo MC’s
Vent - Monelle
JO - Teni
BUZZCUT - BROCKHAMPTON featuring Danny Brown
Bad Dream - Cannons
Energy - Keri Hilson
Gotta Tell You - Samantha Mumba
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon’s Financial Collapse Hits Where It Hurts: The Grocery Store - Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad, The New York Times
The country’s currency has sunk to a new low against the dollar, sending prices for once affordable foods soaring out of reach.
Volunteers In Lebanon Try To Save A Beach And Its Endangered Turtles After Oil Spill - Ruth Sherlock, NPR
Lebanese volunteers are trying to save one of the country's favorite beaches and the nesting places it provides for endangered sea turtles after a February oil spill from an oil tanker.
‘Every day we discuss closure and then decide to keep going,’ say Lebanon’s restaurateurs - Fatima Al Mahmoud, The National
Restaurants and cafes reopened on March 22 despite record coronavirus numbers.
'Honest conversations about women's sexuality disturb men': How misogyny is still rampant in Lebanese society - Farah-Silvana Kanaan, The New Arab
The degrading comments against Dr. Sandrine Atallah on television opened up a wider conversation about the harmful social norms and intrinsic sexism that exists in Lebanese society, writes Farah-Silvana Kanaan.
According to urban myth, a Lebanese man built a skinny building to block his brother's seafront view.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
The Forgotten Sea Shanties of the Gulf - Anna Zacharias, Newlines Magazine
Until well into the 20th century, their haunting melodies were sung by Gulf sailors all across the Indian Ocean.
'Egypt is Holding my Cousin Hostage' - Sherif Mansour, Newsweek
“For generations, my family and many close friends have been targets of what my employer—the Committee to Protect Journalists—and other international human rights groups recently called ‘judicial harassment,’ and ‘hostage-like arrests,’ in Egypt.”
Creating Golf Homes in Morocco Both Traditional and Modern - Sam Lubell, The New York Times
Golf is big business in the North African country and the sport has spawned some gorgeous homes for those looking for proximity to it.
The Debt We Owe Edward Said - Kaleem Hawa, The Nation
A conversation with biographer Timothy Brennan about the enduring political and intellectual legacy of the Palestinian thinker.
Liquid gold: beekeepers defying Yemen war to produce the best honey - Bethan McKernan, The Guardian
Despite the dangers, more Yemenis are turning to the sector as an alternative means of income.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Japanese Breakfast Is Working the Pain Away - Quinn Moreland, Pitchfork
With her third album and a memoir arriving this spring, indie multi-hyphenate Michelle Zauner is choosing to embrace joy in every form.
The Problem With the Rap Antihero - Andre Gee, Complex
“The problem with considering real people through a lens of antihero ‘complication’ is that it dismisses the fallout of their actions and gives them the leeway to continue hurting people.”
The Long History of the Oscars’ Struggle With Best Original Song - Noah Gittell, The Ringer
The category has rarely recognized the best in cinematic songwriting. Why can’t the Academy face the music?
A debut novel about migration, family and survival is everything ‘American Dirt’ wasn’t - Dorany Pineda, Los Angeles Times
Drawing on both research and personal ancestry, Gabriela Garcia’s debate novel “Of Women and Salt” seems to answer the call of many critics of last year’s much-hyped immigration thriller, “American Dirt” — for authentic stories that focus on unique and specific migrant journeys.
HGTV Is Getting a Renovation - Ian Parker, The New Yorker
In the streaming era, does the network need to be more than wallpaper?
📚 Other Reads 📚
He Redefined ‘Racist.’ Now He’s Trying to Build a Newsroom. - Ben Smith, The New York Times
The author Ibram Kendi and The Boston Globe are teaming up to cover racism, inspired by Boston’s 19th-century abolitionist newspapers.
You Probably Don’t Remember the Internet - Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic
How do we memorialize life online when it’s constantly disappearing?
Elgin Baylor, underappreciated superstar - Marc J. Spears, The Undefeated
‘Before Julius Erving, before Michael Jordan, there was Elgin Baylor’
Recipes for Disaster - Riada Asimovic Akyol, Newlines Magazine
“National” cuisines are made up of motley cultural influences — which hasn’t stopped chauvinists and genocidaires from using food as a weapon.
The Pleasures of Conversing via Voice Text - Rachel Syme, The New Yorker
An audio message is a text with a pulse, a phone call with none of the pressure, a fizzy zap of connection that’s there and then gone.
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