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Guest Feature: Massarah Mikati
At the time of this writing, we still do not know the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections. We have a decent idea, but nothing is official yet.
I will admit, I am a bit on edge. Even as we inch closer to what looks like a victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the incitement of violence coming from the current administration is (needless to say) heavy, frightening, and emotionally draining.
I hope you’re finding time to yourselves, finding time for self-care, and taking breaks from work and the news as much as you possibly can. Easier said than done, for sure. Check in on your friends, family, and loved ones too if you’re able. And most importantly, stay safe.
With that, we have so much to get into. I’m so excited to welcome our next guest this week: Massarah Mikati!
Massarah reports on immigration and communities of color for the Times Union, the leading newspaper in New York's capital. As a daughter of Lebanese immigrants and someone who grew up in the post-9/11 world, she’s aspired since the age of 13 to disrupt mainstream media with humanizing, contextual and nuanced narratives that depict the multidimensional identities and experiences of people of color.
1. What is your favorite song right now?
This is the most difficult question you could ever ask me — my favorite song changes multiple times a day, depending on what my brain and emotions need. But if I were to pick one for right now, I'd probably choose Foreign Country by Christina Courtin. It's such a fun and upbeat song, her vocal range is incredible (and a good challenge for me to sing along with) and the instrumental — especially the guitar — is so intricate, too. This song always gets me singing and puts me in a good mood, and my best friend and I love trying to recreate it.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I'm going to break the rules and pick two songs here. One is River by Leon Bridges — 'nuff said — and the other is Work Song by Hozier, which just sounds like warm, melting chocolate to me. The lyrics of both songs are so relatable, beautiful and poetic — they both transport me to different worlds.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
As a Lebanese American, I'm going to have to pick Fairuz's Bhebak ya Lebnan. But really, anytime I'm feeling a little homesick or nostalgic, I have Spotify's Best of Fairuz playlist playing on repeat.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I'm a singer and really enjoy covering songs, so this list could go on. But I'll go ahead and pick Crazy for You by Adele, which I've been singing since high school. This is another song with amazing vocal challenges that feel so satisfying to nail, it has so much soul and power to it, the lyrics are just delightful and the guitar is simple but yet understated.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Definitely Danza Kuduro. I can't hear this song without my body developing a mind of its own, dancing my ass off wherever I am.
Big shout out to Massarah for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Massarah’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And follow her on Twitter and check out her incredible reporting and stories!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Khali Wali - Freek
Dreaming - Teen Idle
Common Sense - Koast
3ad Bdit - Nada Azhari
Waraga - O’d
Almaza - Perrie
Sanensa - Mosalem
Ya Magnon - Assala Nasri
Thalla - Aminux featuring Vibiano
Talkin’ Bout Shit - Rhita Natta
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
La Luz - Sech featuring J Balvin
El Diablo - YEИDRY
poco a poco - riela
Rolex - Salcedo Leyry featuring Omar Montes
For Ya - Paloma Mami
Amigos - Alex Wittels featuring Jambene
Tengo Lo Que Tengo - Jimena Angel
Gatita Gangster - Cazzu featuring Ñengo Flow
Uchi Wala - Maffio featuring Nicky Jam and Akon
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Deep End - Fousheé
Water - Naïka
NEVER FIND - WSTRN
None Of Your Concern - Jhené Aiko featuring Big Sean
INDUSTRY GAMES - CHIKA
One More Time - Not3s featuring AJ Tracey
west side - Ariana Grande
I Agree - Y’akoto
I Love You Always Forever - Donna Lewis
Spend Some Time - Amaarae featuring Wande Coal
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
America’s Future Might Be Lebanon - Kim Ghattas, The Atlantic
The Lebanese know that waiting for the end of something does not truly provide a fresh start, and certainly not a return to the way things were before.
The Real Housekeepers of Beirut - Lisa Khoury, Washington Monthly
Domestic workers come to Lebanon from Africa and Asia and face domestic violence and virtual slavery. Here’s why the law doesn’t protect them.
Lebanon patients ‘pay price of bad governance’ in medicine shortages - Chloe Cornish, Financial Times
Panic buying escalates after central bank warns of dollar allocation for pharmaceutical imports.
Teaching Science Fiction While Living It in Lebanon - Nadya Sbaiti, Society & Space
Reflecting on the last year in Lebanon, Nadya Sbaiti argues for the pedagogical power of sci fi in thinking through the country’s popular uprising, economic implosion, pandemic, and port explosion.
The Beirut Blast: The Anguish, The Aftermath And Now, The Recovery - Sarah Ayoub, Marie Claire Australia
Sarah Ayoub talks to the women on the frontline.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Muslim and Arab Voters May Have Secured Biden’s Michigan Win - Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost
The results mirror early polling and initial exit polling that suggested that high turnout from Arab and Muslim segments of the state assisted Biden’s win.
The Children of Fallujah: The Medical Mystery at the Heart of the Iraq War - Laura Gottesdiener, The Nation
Since the 2003 invasion, doctors in Fallujah have been reporting a sharp rise in birth defects among the city’s children—and to this day, no one knows why.
Younes Bendjima Brings Algeria to New Balance - Brendan Dunne, Complex
Younes Bendjima interviews with Complex to talk about his New Balance collaboration and how he’s bringing Algeria to the brand.
Surviving torture in a Syrian prison made me who I am today - Omar Alshogre, Al Jazeera
Omar Alshogre’s journey from Syria’s notorious Branch 215 prison to the US’s Georgetown University.
Egyptian Teen Seeks Justice in Rape Case, and a Battle Erupts Over Women’s Rights - Mona El-Naggar, The New York Times
A generation of young women in Egypt who have found their voice on social media are challenging the old rules that blamed women when they were attacked by men.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
The Undeniable Sean Connery - Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
Behind the actor’s characters, you sensed something hard, immutable, and crystalline that belonged to him alone.
Meet the female hip-hop DJ behind Vinyl Destination: Kuwait’s first pop-up record store - Alison Tay, Grazia Middle East
Grazia hangs with DJ, producer and record store founder Farah Bishara to discover more about her pioneering Kuwaiti concept.
How J Balvin Made His Trippy, Eye-Popping Halloween Concert in Fortnite - Ben Sisario, The New York Times
The video game has become a music venue as the pandemic continues to keep live shows off the road. The Latin pop star put his own colorful spin on the experience.
Get to Know Amaarae, Who’s Expanding the Sound of Afropop - Mankaprr Conteh, Pitchfork
The 26-year-old singer-songwriter based in Accra, Ghana talks about her genre-bending sound, her punk mentality, and the globalization of African music.
Trump and the Rap Vote - Frazier Tharpe, GQ
Rappers have slowly become part of presidential politics, but no one has courted their endorsements like Trump.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Latino voters tired of being taken for granted by baffled Democratic campaigns - Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times
“What it drove home for me is that the Democratic Party as a whole needs to reevaluate our whole operation on how we reach out to Latinos.”
In a close election, some Black Americans see a clear winner: Racism - Dasia Moore and Deanna Pan, The Boston Globe
Black voters called the country's failure to decisively reject racist policy and rhetoric "disappointing but not surprising."
Navajo and Hopi voters turn out in force on Election Day, hoping for a clear voice - Shondiin Silversmith, Arizona Republic
Despite coronavirus regulations and concerns, Navajo and Hopi voters turned out to vote in-person at polling stations across Apache and Navajo County.
The Election Outcome Will Make Sweeping Climate Action Harder - Bill McKibben, The New Yorker
Activists may have to look beyond a likely divided Washington—to the country’s other cities and states—to push for meaningful environmental reform.
COVID Is the Big Story on Campus. College Reporters Have the Scoop. - Amelia Nierenberg, The New York Times
University outbreaks are significant contributors to the pandemic. And the campus paper might be the only one left to cover them.
Your Weekly Sample
In their song “Take It To The Floor” B2K samples Hossam Ramzy’s cover of “Khosara Khosara” by Abdel Halim Hafez. Check it out!