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Guest Feature: Rowaida Abdelaziz
Usually in this intro section, I write about some news and share highlights from the week (like Joe Biden saying “inshallah” during Tuesday’s debate and President Trump contracting COVID). But now, we’re adding something new. Periodically, in lieu of the intro, I’ll be asking friends, family, and other people that I love and admire to share their answers to five song-related questions as a fun way to highlight their jams and uplift their amazing work.
I’m so excited to announce our first-ever guest: Rowaida Abdelaziz!
Rowaida is a national reporter at HuffPost, where she focuses on Islamophobia and social justice issues. Based in New York City, Rowaida spearheads the coverage of Muslim life and its intersection with politics, culture, and gender. Her investigations exposing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant legislation and rhetoric continue to puncture stereotypical depictions of Muslims and Arabs in the media. Fluent in Arabic, Rowaida also has written numerous stories on the Middle East and covered the refugee crises in Syria, Yemen, and other parts of the Arab world.
Most of all, Rowaida is an amazing, inspiring, and supportive friend with phenomenal taste in music. I asked her to answer these questions and share some insight into her song selections:
What’s your favorite song right now?
El Leila Bil Leil ( الليلة بالليل )
2020 has been tough for so many of us and this song by Shukri Ezzaldin makes me so incredibly happy.
What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
So many Adele's but let's pick Love in the Dark. I hate to admit there are a few Drake ones too but I won't tell!
Name a song that reminds you of home.
In a war between Amr Diab and Um Kalthoum, the Queen wins. Enta Omri.
Name a song you know all the words to.
Kat Dahlia's Gangsta. What can I say? It's a mood.
Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Big shout out and thanks to Rowaida for being our first guest and sharing her songs! They’ll all be included in this week’s playlist as well. Make sure you check out Rowaida’s important and incredible reporting, and follow her on Twitter @Rowaida_Abdel. Much love!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Arab + diaspora artists) 🎧
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx + Hispanic artists) 🎤
🎼 Other Music 🎼
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Fleeing chaos and hardship, Lebanese have begun braving perilous seas - Steve Hendrix and Nader Durgham, The Washington Post
With Mediterranean crossings up sharply in recent weeks, the refugees are proving easy prey for smugglers.
Lebanon: Love without hope? - Stefanie Dekker, Al Jazeera
Lebanese artists discuss the ever-changing journey of their country, a nation marked by conflict.
Beirut Blast Deepens Miseries of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon - Raja Abdulrahim, The Wall Street Journal
Attitudes have hardened toward the more than one million Syrians who had taken refuge in the country.
Lebanon’s economy is going to pot — in a good way, it hopes - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
Lebanon has legalized marijuana farming — already a thriving illicit industry — in hopes of giving a boost to its foundering economy.
A Pit(i)less Blame Game at the Beirut Port of Institutional Corruption - Rohan Advani, The Public Source
“While corruption is touted as the primary suspect, this piece demonstrates how mismanagement, graft, and illicit activities are an institutionalized routine at the Port of Beirut.”
🌍 Arabs and the Diaspora 🌎
The famed ‘Jericho banana’ is vanishing. Under Israeli occupation, there’s not enough water. - Steve Hendrix, The Washington Post
The crop was the “green gold” of West Bank farmers. Water woes have driven most out of business.
‘We don’t have the white experience’: Arab Americans grapple with race categories on census - Hannan Adely, New Jersey Herald
The U.S. Census does not include a category for Middle East and North African residents. The federal government labels them as white but that conflicts with how many people feel, how they look and how they are treated.
A Syrian Refugee Family's Resettlement In The U.S. Is Captured In Graphic Novel - Deborah Amos, NPR
The challenges the Aldabaans faced along the way is told in a powerful and moving new graphic novel Welcome to the New World. The story begins in 2016 when the Aldabaans arrive on election day in November — and wake up in Donald Trump's America.
The 22-Year-Old Force Behind Egypt’s Growing #MeToo Movement - Declan Walsh, The New York Times
In a moment of rage, Nadeen Ashraf created an Instagram page naming a man accused of being a sexual harasser. Within a week, it had 70,000 followers.
‘Baghdad Central’ Star Waleed Zuaiter Launches FlipNarrative Production Company - Nick Vivarelli, Variety
Waleed Zuaiter, who plays the lead in Iraq war drama series “Baghdad Central,” is launching a TV and film production company called FlipNarrative that aims to become a bridge between Hollywood and the Middle East and South Asia.
🎶 Music, Culture, and the Arts 🎶
What It’s Like to Be Black in Indie Music - Matthew James-Wilson, Pitchfork
Black artists and professionals discuss the roadblocks they’ve faced and offer ideas on how independent music scenes can change for the better.
An Extraordinary Conversation Between Michaela Coel and Donald Glover - Jonathan Heaf, GQ
The two most influential black voices working in television today, on Zoom and speaking freely.
MCA Abdul talks influences, aspirations and isolation with the founder of Palestinian hip-hop group DAM.
How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lives on In Pop Culture - Sara Aridi, The New York Times
She found A-list fame late in life, appearing in movies, children’s books and ‘S.N.L.’ impressions.
Selections: Deena Abdelwahed - Eoin Murray, DJ Mag
Tunisian DJ and producer Deena Abdelwahed flags up 10 releases, spanning Arabic rap and jazz, Egyptian mahraganat, futuristic club sounds, and kuduro.
📚 Other Reads 📚
When COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S., immigration courts shut down, leading to indefinite delays for hearings. Many asylum seekers are on the verge of missing their one-year deadline to submit their applications for asylum.
‘This should be normal’: Doris Burke keeps cutting a path for others to follow - Dana O’Neil, The Athletic
“I hope unequivocally that I can make the path easier for anyone who might come after me, but I have to be honest with you, it was never my intention to be the first. I understand why ESPN put out that release (about calling the NBA Finals). I really do. But honestly, it’s a narrative that I hope stops. This should be normal.”
The Tangle: Unraveling of Trump policies a distant hope for separated immigrant families. - Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters
Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg tell the stories of people and families affected by the Trump administration’s harmful changes to immigration.
Is It Time To Say R.I.P. To 'P.O.C.'? - Shereen Marisol Maraji and Natalie Escobar, NPR
NPR’s Code Switch uses the term "POC" a lot. But critiques of the initialism — and the popularization of the term "BIPOC" — caused Code Switch to ask: Should we retire POC? Or is there use in it yet?
The Students Left Behind By Remote Learning - Alec MacGillis, The New Yorker
The desire to protect children may put their long-term well-being at stake.
Your Weekly Sample
In his song “Wicked” Future samples “Kanet Rohi” by Rayan. Check it out!