Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Lara Hamdan
As I mentioned last week, I’m going to use this space to shout out some awesome organizations during Arab Heritage Month. This week, I want to show love to Kerning Cultures!
Kerning Cultures Network is a female-led podcast company with award-winning immersive Arabic and English podcasts for curious listeners.
One of their podcasts in particular, the Kerning Cultures Show, tells stories from the Middle East, North Africa, and the spaces in between. They have some great episodes highlighting Arab American history (often lesser-known) to check out:
Hi Jolly: This episode follows the trail of elusive camel herder Hadj Ali (or as Americans called him, Hi Jolly), who played a role in the western expansion of the US…all on camelback.
Operation Boulder: Abdeen Jabara took the US government to court over the surveillance programs targeting Arabs and Arab Americans. This explains the history of surveillance by the US against its Arab communities, from the 1970s to 9/11 to present day.
The Freemason: His grandfather was an influential freemason, but he could not speak of it because freemasonry is illegal in Iraq. In this episode, Kerning Cultures explores how Solomon grapples with conflicting sides of his identity, his grandfather, and the history of freemasonry in the Middle East.
Viva Brother Nagi: Nagi Daifallah was a young farm worker from Yemen who moved to California and became one of the organizers of the infamous 1973 grape strike in California, led by Cesar Chavez. Nagi’s story – and the movement he helped organize – went on to make real change to farm workers’ rights in America, and continues to inspire Yemeni American activists today.
Lebanon, USA: In 2016, Fadi Boukaram planned to visit 47 American towns named Lebanon by road. Then, in Lebanon, South Dakota, he discovered that all these other Lebanons have more in common with the country than anybody realised. This is a story about the surprising history that connects Lebanon, with a string of small towns in the USA.
Little Syria: The lower west side of Manhattan used to be home to the biggest population of Arab immigrants in the US. In the early 20th century, streets were full of people speaking Arabic, with street vendors selling ka’ak, storefront baklava displays; this was New York’s “Little Syria”. Today though, it’s all gone. In this episode: America’s first Arab neighbourhood, and the final attempts to save it.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Lara Hamdan!
Lara Hamdan is a Palestinian-American currently embracing her new role as the engagement editor at St. Louis Public Radio, her hometown's NPR member station. She previously worked as a producer for the station's flagship talk show, St. Louis on the Air. For four years, she’s worked to highlight change makers and artists in her region doing great things, and delved into pressing issues affecting residents, from medical racism to ending period poverty. Some segments she’s produced include this piece about St. Louisians sharing their love for Nelly’s “Country Grammar” album when it marked its 20th anniversary, or how Muslims in the region navigated Ramadan during the pandemic.
Not only is Lara an incredible reporter, but she also makes AMAZING playlists! I mean seriously, check out her Halloween playlist! Lara has a very cool and eclectic taste in music (I know this through our conversations about different songs) so it only made sense to have her share some of her go-to’s:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Okay I’m a Gemini, indecisiveness runs through my veins. Trying to narrow down my song choices was extremely difficult, so I just picked out songs that immediately came to mind.
With that preface out of the way, my favorite song right now would have to be “Guilty Concious” by 070 Shake, which is an artist I just only recently found out about. “Safi ya Laban” by Jamaet Khair is also a song I’ve been loving lately, and it’s by a modern composition band from Jordan.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
So I know all the credit goes to BTS for putting K-Pop on such a massive world scale, and I truly do stan the group and want to shout out its ARMY; they truly are one of the world’s most powerful fandoms and have been such a force of good and totally deserving of all the good things. But I actually became a K-Pop fan in 2010, so this question reminded me of “It’s You” by Super Junior. It’s such a deep love song and really gets me in my feels.
My second answer to this question would have to be “Tetraga Feya” by Ehab Tawfik. I don’t think that one needs an explanation, it’s just that epic. It’s the ultimate breakup song and one that always requires to be on full volume and sung at full capacity.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
I’m from St. Louis, so “County Grammar” by Nelly gets this honorable mention off the bat. Usually this song ignites such a fire and hypes up any STLian. We can’t wait to scream its lyrics, especially “I’m from the ‘Lou and I’m proud!”
But also, Palestine is truly my heart’s home, so any traditional Palestinian songs by El-Funoun Palestinian Troupe instantly transports me to spending time with my family in our village. “Funouniyat” is a nice medley of different traditional songs dear to my heart.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Probably any Celine Dion song. Let’s go with “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” She's such a legend! I had the chance to see her perform live in 2019 and every single note was *perfect.*
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Free Samara” by Al Nather and Shabjdeed has the exact amount of attitude, wordplay and beat needed to help me face absolutely any BS life has to throw at me and boosts my confidence up every time. “I Want to Break Free” by Queen would also have to top my list here.
Big shout out to Lara for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Lara’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And definitely go follow Lara on Twitter and give her a shout about her playlists!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Mala 3lach - F.B.K.
Mon Amour - Nayomi featuring Moncho
Raw - Ramih
Wild Things - Miraa May
Soukara - JenJoon
Bhar 3alkeboos - Sabine Salamé
Machi Lel Ghorba - Kemo
3ARI - Manal
telefreak - Besh & Rageh
Achinkad - Imarhan
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Bitcoin - ChocQuibTown
Sueños De Libertad - Juanita Euka
Luces - Vesica Piscis
Celia - Camila Cabello
Hey Siri - Mariah Angeliq
Tengo Cosas Que Contarte - Jose Merce featuring Mala Rodrigues and Tomatito
La Tropilla - Santiago Chalar
Descifrar - maye
Igual Que Ayer - R.K.M & Ken-Y
Camina y Vén - Reina Guajira
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Neck & Wrist - Pusha T featuring Jay-Z and Pharrell
Leave You Alone - Ella Mai
Coming Down - Ari Lennox
Sáré - Simi
LEMONADE - Vince Staples featuring Ty Dolla $ign
True Love - Lila Iké
Daily - ToriTori
Toleka - Omo Frenchie
UNIVERSE 4 TWO - Sunni Colón
Greener - FKJ featuring Santana
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Yahia Al Dana: Lebanese MMA champion finds future in Dubai - Ghadir Hamadi, L’Orient Today
“It’s not only about being motivated, it’s about how much effort you're willing to put in, even when you’re not feeling your best.”
Lebanese elections marked with high number of youth candidates - Hanan Hamdan, Al-Monitor
In the parliamentary elections due in May, dozens of youth and women are hoping to break the cycle of political nepotism and bring new faces to the country’s parliament.
Remembering and reliving Easter fun in Lebanon - Angela Zaher, gal-dem
Making ka’ak wa maamoul with my children allows me to relive my own childhood.
Making movies in Lebanon’s season of crises - Rana Tabbara and Jim Quilty, L’Orient Today
Lebanese film producers give their perspectives on how the country's cinema landscape has changed since late 2019 and how they've adapted to bank blockages, gas lines and other production hurdles.
Dick Dale, the Inventor of Surf Rock, Was a Lebanese-American Kid from Boston - Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker
Dick Dale’s work was directly and mightily informed by the Arabic music that he listened to as a child.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Tunisia: 'Food crisis inevitable' as Ramadan begins - Aida Delpuech, Middle East Eye
Basic food shortages most severe Tunisia has ever seen as experts warn of 'explosive' situation.
‘No one should suffer like me’: families of Qatar’s dead migrant workers left with nothing - Pete Pattisson and Pramod Acharya, The Guardian
“Qatar’s labour law only requires employers to pay compensation if a death occurs at work or directly because of the work, but this narrow definition and the vague categorisation of workers’ deaths can result in companies avoiding accountability.”
Jordanian Human Rights Defenders and Journalists Hacked with Pegasus Spyware - Mohammad Al-Maskiti and Bill Markzack, Daraj
The devices of four Jordanian human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists were hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware between August 2019 and December 2021. The targets include those working against corruption in Jordan.
Israel charges Palestinian journalists with incitement — for doing their jobs - Yuval Abraham, The Intercept
In a spate of arrests, Israeli security forces interrogated Palestinian journalists about their work, then hit them with trumped-up charges.
Egypt's Ramadan lantern-makers struggle to adapt to changing industry - Kamal Tabikha, The National
Rising copper prices put some of Cairo's lantern artisans out of business while others have changed their designs to fit modern tastes.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Director and executive producer Mohamed Diab says this was key to his mission and saw him hire top Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih, editor Ahmed Hafez and ensure that 90 percent of the Egyptian roles went to fellow countrymen.
Meet the couple behind Artists Who Code, a group helping artists switch careers to tech - Makeda Easter, Los Angeles Times
Artists Who Code was born out of Catherine Ricafort McCreary and Scott McCreary’s deep frustrations working as full-time artists.
These Three Sisters Helped Bring Hip-Hop to Ukraine. Now They’re Refugees From War - David Browne, Rolling Stone
As Black Jewish Ukrainians, Fo Sho brought a unique perspective to their country’s music scene. Now displaced due to war with Russia, they’re more determined than ever to share it with the world.
Musicians Are Begging Fans to Mask Up at Concerts. Here’s Why. - Nina Corcoran, Pitchfork
With mask mandates being pulled, artists like Jeff Rosenstock, Wednesday, Mary Lattimore, and Speedy Ortiz say that they feel forced to choose between healthcare burdens and income loss.
After a decade behind the scenes, Stromae is here to have fun - Dylan Green, Mic
“I’m not running after anything anymore,” the Belgian artist says of his new album, ‘Multitude.’
📚 Other Reads 📚
Where Breaking the Ramadan Fast Includes Caribou - Victoria Petersen, The New York Times
At America’s northernmost mosque, in Anchorage, nightly potlucks will let Muslims celebrate iftar together over foods from around the globe.
What Do Cities Lose When They Lose Pro Sports? - Dan Moore, The Ringer
In negotiations between the Oakland Athletics and city officials over the future of the A’s in Oakland, more is on the line than just baseball.
Dawn Staley’s impact on basketball goes beyond her titles with South Carolina - Sean Hurd, Andscape
In a sport traditionally dominated by white head coaches, Staley, a Black woman, has been able to disrupt the status quo in a way no other coach has for years.
Climate Change Is Making Afghanistan’s Hunger Crisis Worse - Eltaf Najafizada and Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg
The worst drought in two decades, punishing sanctions and soaring wheat prices due to the war in Ukraine are making food insecurity more severe.
Christian Smalls Is Leading a Labor Movement in Sweats and Sneakers - Gina Cherelus, The New York Times
“If I was to run for president, I would look just like this,” said Mr. Smalls, the president of the Amazon Labor Union.