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Guest Feature: Rim-Sarah Alouane
It’s Friday the 13th! Are you superstitious? Do you think today will finally be the day that President Trump concedes the election?
We have so much to get into today. I’m very excited to welcome our next guest this week: Rim-Sarah Alouane!
Rim-Sarah is a legal scholar, commentator and Ph.D candidate at the University Toulouse Capitole in France. Of French and Algerian background, her multicultural upbringing has given an additional unique insight on matters related to religious freedom, civil liberties, constitutional law and human rights both on a domestic and international level. Her work has been published by leading law and social sciences global journals including Atlantic Council, Brookings and Foreign Policy. Rim-Sarah frequently appears on TV and radio outlets in America and worldwide, including NPR, Al Jazeera and the BBC discussing issues like discrimination, human rights and politics.
Rim-Sarah is THE person right now to follow for everything happening in France at the moment. More importantly, she is a dear friend and an empathetic human with an eclectic taste in music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I have recently been rediscovering the legendary Al-Andalus muwashshah (a genre of poetic music from Moorish Spain) “Lamma bada yatathanna.” This beautiful sophisticated poem that has been sung in modern times is one of the many jewels of Maghrebi and Middle-Eastern classical music. There are probably hundreds of different interpretations of this song but the most notable are definitely from Fairouz, Lena Chamamyan, and Amina Bensouda, and I would describe them as exquisite and magical. Turn off your social media, close your eyes, and enjoy this moment of pure bliss and enchantment.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I will go with “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. The level of sophistication and beauty of this song is immeasurable. It is complex, rich, powerful, beautiful, and delicate all at the same time. It inspires us to try to live life fully despite the many ups and downs. Focus on the essential and be surrounded by people who care because in the end, nothing else matters.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Home is where the heart is, and my heart is all over the place. As someone who identifies as Mediterranean, I am by design a wanderer, an explorer, someone who wants to connect with others and learn from them. Happiness for me is being given the opportunity to cross seas, oceans, and continents. But for some, traveling can sometimes be an act of despair when you have no choice but to leave home because your life depends on it. If I had one song to choose that in my opinion has a universal appeal, I would go with “Ya Rayah” by Dahmane el- Harrachi. This song is among one of the most remarkable pieces of Algerian chaabi music I’ve heard. I can’t listen to it without having tears in my eyes. This beautiful song is universal: it’s about the traveler, the immigrant, the wanderer, the exiled who, deep in a corner of their heart, will always be longing to come home.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Britney Spears’ “Oops!…I Did It Again”. A classic of American pop music. It reminds me of my youth (yep, I am old enough to remember pre-Las Vegas Britney) and it is one of the first songs I learned in English. It’s fun and extremely silly, because sometimes you need to chill and enjoy simple and silly stuff for your own sanity. Also, the video is one of the weirdest pieces of nonsense ever made. Furthermore, as someone who loves dancing for absolutely no reason, it has the perfect tune and beat (fun fact: I also used to know the choreography by heart!)
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I’ll ignore the “one song rule” and go with Idir’s Awah Awah & Zwit Rwit. Berber music is so underrated and deserves more recognition and celebration. Berber music tells the story of our ancestors, it celebrates joy, beauty, and diversity. Also nothing can beat a good Kabylian tune on a dance floor: it’s all about joy, love and celebration of life. I’ll again ignore the “one song rule” and add “Lose My Breath” by Destiny’s Child, probably one of THE best bands in modern times. They are super talented, amazing dancers, outstanding singers, and they definitely know how to make a good tune.
Big shout out to Rim-Sarah for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Rim-Sarah’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And PLEASE follow her on Twitter and check out all of her incredible analysis and funny takes on “Emily in Paris.”
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Yemken - Abo El Anwar
Salina - Inez
Enta Eih - Elyanna
Sidi Hbibi (Remix) - Dub Afrika featuring VAN
Last Lap - Abir
Mafeesh Ma3na - Lege-Cy
Malhuga - A-WA
Baba - Ily
Hellow - Mustafa Al-Abdullah featuring Ali Jassim
Saniya - Karim Ziad
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Tú Me Dejaste De Querer - C. Tangana featuring Niño de Elche and La Hungara
Me Provoca - Letón Pé featuring Diego Raposo
Travesuras - Nio Garcia & Casper Magico
Juego De Amor - La Isla Centeno
Pase Lo Que Pase (Remix) - Jay Wheeler featuring Andrez Babii and DJ Nelson
Rompecabezas - Tueska
De Cora <3 - Rauw Alejandro featuring J Balvin
Si Yo No Voy - Kat Dahlia
Prende Pasa - Ovi
Te Lo Dije - Natti Natasha featuring Anitta
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Tchop - Aya Nakamura
Cupid’s Curse - Phora featuring Kehlani
All I Ask - Adele
Damn - Omah Lay featuring 6LACK
Remember The Rain - Kadhja Bonet
Blue Laces 2 - Nipsey Hussle
One Time - Queen Naija featuring Toosii
Tiada Akhir - Yuna
Elastic - Joey Purp
THE NEWS - PARTYNEXTDOOR
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Two Lebanese offer migrant workers a way back home - Dalal Mawad, Associated Press
Déa Hage-Chahine and Serge Majdalani are two young Lebanese who have partnered on a mission to repatriate domestic migrant workers stranded in Lebanon by the worst economic crisis in the country’s modern history.
When Lebanon bids goodbye to its youth - Julie Kebbi, L’Orient Today
Young Lebanese have experienced it all this past year: the euphoria of a revolution of which they were the beating heart, the hangover of the aftermath that hit them hard, the consequences of the financial crisis, and the feeling that they are left with no other choice but to leave.
Hundreds of disillusioned doctors leave Lebanon, in blow to healthcare - Samia Nakhoul and Issam Abdallah, Reuters
Some of those who can leave the country have done so, and an increasing number of them are doctors and surgeons, many at the top of their profession. With them goes Beirut’s proud reputation as the medical capital of the Middle East.
Beirut blast: a night of horror, captured by its victims - Michael Safi, Garry Blight, Lydia McMullan, Esther Opoku-Gyeni, Marina Costa and Tala El-Issa, The Guardian
Lebanon’s August explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts ever. Survivors tell their stories using the media they recorded on their smartphones. (Warning: this interactive contains audio, photos and videos that some may find distressing.)
Frantic search after medicines vanish from Lebanon shelves - Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press
Drugs for everything from diabetes and blood pressure to anti-depressants and fever pills used in COVID-19 treatment have disappeared from shelves around Lebanon.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Politics and flavored tobacco: Arab Americans are relieved at Trump's defeat - Ali Harb, Middle East Eye
While many Arab Americans may express happiness at Biden's election, their expectations vary for new administration.
In ruins, Syria marks 50 years of Assad family rule - Zeina Karam, Associated Press
The country is in ruins from a decade of civil war that killed a half million people, displaced half the population and wiped out the economy. Like the Castro family in Cuba and North Korea’s Kim dynasty, the Assads have attached their name to their country the way few non-monarchical rulers have done.
A cafe in Yemen run by women, for women - Nusibah al-Moalimi, Abdulrahman al-Ansi, and Lisa Barrington, Reuters
When Um Feras realised there were no leisure spaces for women in her city in Yemen, she founded her own cafe and hopes to change attitudes about women-led businesses.
From Iraq, an Intimate Glimpse of the Religious Holiday of Arbaeen - Andrea DiCenzo, The New York Times
Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on the Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the Shiite holiday of Arbaeen, one of the largest organized gatherings in the world.
May Calamawy On Dena Hassan, Double-Standards and Her Dedication To Sharing Real Female Arab Stories - Olivia Phillips, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia
Olivia Phillips spoke to May Calamawy, the breakout star of Golden Globe-winning Ramy, about the power of real female voices – both on and off-screen
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
Rock the Vote: How the Music Industry Built a Youth Voting Movement - Hilary Hughes, Pitchfork
Over the last 30 years, the nonprofit has registered 12 million voters (and counting) via its platform and played a significant role in the election of two presidents. They couldn’t have done it without the pop, rock, and rap stars who were willing to use their fame for a cause.
Blasting from cars and street corners, YG and Nipsey Hussle’s ‘FDT’ played amid celebration of Biden’s win - August Brown, Los Angeles Times
On streets across the country, revelers chanted along to the 2016 protest song “FTD” as they celebrated the victory of Joe Biden over President Trump.
As Black horror rises in popularity, horror writers discuss its evolution - Carolyn Copeland, Prism Reports
Black horror often uses white supremacy as the villain, rather than a ghost or a monster.
Immigrant families pay tribute to Alex Trebek for helping them learn English - Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News
"He was one of the first people I 'met' in this country," one fan said.
Hip-Hop In Nashville Is Making Its Own Way - Jewly Hight, NPR
Nashville's music industry has never given homegrown hip-hop the support it deserves, so the city's artists and entrepreneurs are creating their own institutions.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Nonwhite voters are not immune to the appeal of right-wing populism - Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept
From Toronto’s Rob Ford to Donald Trump, racist candidates attract nonwhite support. What gives?
How Indigenous voters swung the 2020 election - Anna V. Smith, High Country News
In Arizona and Wisconsin, Native turnout — which often leans liberal — made the difference in Biden’s slim but winning margin.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left - Astead W. Herndon, The New York Times
The congresswoman said Joe Biden’s relationship with progressives would hinge on his actions. And she dismissed criticism from House moderates, calling some candidates who lost their races “sitting ducks.”
Behind Pfizer's vaccine, an understated husband-and-wife 'dream team' - Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss, Reuters
Ugur Sahin and Oezlem Tuereci, children of Turkish immigrants, worked tirelessly in the lab together (even on their wedding day) to help develop this vaccine.
Technique Has No Color - Misty Copeland, The Players’ Tribune
“Being a ballerina comes with an incredible amount of pressure. Being a Black woman who is a ballerina means the pressure is almost incomprehensible".”
Your Weekly Sample
This is a pretty well known one, but on his song “Big Pimpin’” Jay-Z samples “Khosara Khosara” by Abdel Halim Hafez. Check it out!
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