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Guest Feature: Sandra Saad
If you’ve been watching the news or have been active on social media this week, you’ve seen the horrific and shameful treatment of Haitian asylum seekers at the US southern border by Border Patrol agents. This did not happen in a vacuum, though. This is the direct result of a long history of American immigration policies rooted in xenophobia and racism that disproportionately harm Black migrants. President Biden and previous administrations deliberately chose to uphold that legacy instead of treating people fleeing for safety and refuge with the humanity and dignity they deserve.
I’m outraged, and I’m sure many of you are too. I want to highlight a few organizations in particular that have been putting in the work every day that deserve attention and support today and always:
Haitian Bridge Alliance works to develop a self-sufficient community of Haitian immigrants in California and beyond. Our vision is not myopic but rather broad enough to believe in a Haitian community in California that is strong at its foundation so that it doesn't crumble when crisis hits. They released a fact sheet this week about the treatment of Haitian migrants in the US. You can donate to them here.
UndocuBlack is a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access to resources, and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives. Donate here to support their work.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) believes that a thriving multiracial democracy requires racial, social and economic justice for all. African Americans and black immigrants are stronger together and we can win by becoming leaders in the fight against structural racism and systemic discrimination. BAJI was formed to bring Black voices together to advocate for equality and justice in our laws and our communities. Donate to them here.
Thanks for indulging me, friends. Let’s get right into it for this week. I am so excited to introduce our guest feature: Sandra Saad!
Sandra Saad is an Egyptian-American actor and award-winning voice over artist, best known for her work as Ms. Marvel in the Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics video game Marvel’s Avengers, and the Disney+ animated series Spidey and His Amazing Friends. She has voiced countless characters in cartoons, audio books, podcasts, and some of the fanciest video game franchises around, including Call of Duty, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and others. Sandra is a small and silly on-camera actress, comedian, and front woman of her psychedelic folk band, Eye of the Sun.
Oh. My. God. MS. MARVEL Y’ALL! How incredible is this?! And I promise, Sandra is much more than that too. A multi-talented human being, her work and artistry shines a big light for the community. And it means so much that Sandra agreed to share some of her go-to songs this week — and put so much thought into sharing the reasons for her choices:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I like to get myself hung up on songs by Will Oldham and then sit with them until I start overthinking them— I feel like that’s the way to go with this guy, the songs almost demand long periods of active listening. He’s produced such a remarkable body of work (under the Bonnie Prince Billy moniker, and a few bands including his most recent, Superwolves). I was lucky to be brought back into the live-music scene with a Superwolves show that completely blew my mind. When they played “Make Worry for Me”, I immediately felt a warm, undeniable sense of magic take over the room. Standing at the lip of the stage with his arms raised, as if to invite the audience to their organized chaos, Will Oldham shouts into Matt Sweeney’s heart wrenching guitar solo — I stopped breathing, and I just…cried. Most of us in that room collectively felt a visceral beauty we hadn’t seen or heard in so long, we’d forgotten it existed. To me, that moment we all shared is what music's really about.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I believe every song I listen to makes me feel something big… otherwise it isn’t worth listening to. “Alf Leila we Leila” is one of the greatest works of art I've ever seen/ heard/ felt, and it’s drenched in feelings. When Om Kalsoum sings, she sings right into you, man.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Gana El Hawa”, by my favorite singer of all time, the king, Abdel Halim Hafez. This is a song I just have to listen to with my eyes closed, because everything about it takes me home. It’s classic Egypt—beautiful, legendary, intentional. I’ve been singing along to it since I was a kid; my mom and all her sisters grew up total Abdel Halim fan girls, and now I am too.
Also like side note, I think 8 of my favorite Arabic songs are about the wind?
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I love the band Faun Fables—I think I know the lyrics to all their songs? I’ve been fortunate enough to sing with them for the last few years, and every time I do, I request “Violet”. It feels transcendent... so much so, that it might make your heart beat differently. “Violet” (along with every other song on their “Light of a Vaster Dark” album) is almost what plays in my head when I hear the word “beautiful.”
“Sober Driver” by Dengue Fever also gets stuck in my head alllllll the time. If anyone reading this ever gets the chance to see Dengue Fever play live, I implore you to take that opportunity, because they are just truly so very fun to watch.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Icky Thump” by The White Stripes! Most songs that Jack White writes get me crazy, but this one really strikes a chord with me. I’m *that chick* who pulls up at all my auditions (and long intensive grocery store visits) blaring this song. It’s loud, it kicks your ass, and you can’t help pound out Meg’s drum, or screaming along to Jack White’s fried vocals and fuzzy guitar. Wow I’d marry him ANY day. Except Wednesday, I’m busy that day.
“Ah Ya Alby” by Hakim is also just so festive and fun (and mildly heartbreaking?), and I blast it any time I feel like I wanna have some fun in the car. I live in Los Angeles, so we drive a lot babyyyyy!
Big shout out to Sandra for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Sandra’s songs are included in this week’s playlist too, so be sure to take a listen. And be sure to follow Sandra on Twitter, Instagram, IMDB, and go watch Ms. Marvel!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Amman - Idreesi
Ba9i Ghadi - Lbenj featuring Marjana
Shift Kitir - Sabah
As7ab El Kas - Almas featuring VLI WEEZY
Summer Rain - Majid Jordan
Akhbarak Eh - Maya Nasri
Ma Nebrach - Mortada Ftiti featuring G.G.A.
Moga - Maii and Zeid
Al Mokhtar - MAD Hurtz
Mishwar (Live) - Luna Abu Nassar
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
muero en el intento - Paty B
SEJODIOTO - KAROL G
Ri Ri - Ptazeta featuring Juacko
Hijuepu - Arcangel featuring Lenny Tavárez and Juanka
TE FUISTE - Enrique Iglesias featuring Myke Towers
El Rejol Cucú - Maná featuring Mabel
Al Natural - Tego Calderon featuring Yandel
Rómpelo - Cimafunk featuring Lupe Fiasco
lyu2 - riela featuring marcos g
Esta noche - IRIA M
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
SUN GOES DOWN - Lil Nas X
Altar - Kehlani
HB2U - Isaiah Rashad
What It Is - Amber Mark
Fair Trade - Drake featuring Travis Scott
Night Shift - Lucy Dacus
We Need A Resolution - Aaliyah featuring Timbaland
Beggie Beggie - Ayra Starr featuring CKay
Big Energy - Latto
Finally - CeCe Peniston
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
On three wheels: Tuk tuks find their place in the Bekaa’s transportation sector - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
Throughout the central plains of the Bekaa Valley, the tuk tuks have become ubiquitous.
Lebanon’s skateboarding scene revived with new Beirut park - Maggie Ghali, The New Arab
“Following a relief fund in support of Lebanon’s skateboarding community after the 2020 Beirut Port explosion, NGO Make Life Skate Life has opened the country’s first public skate park at Beirut’s Horsh park.”
‘Nothing but a pot of mlukhiye’: Trauma, mental health in Lebanon - Arwa Ibrahim, Al Jazeera
Beirut’s port blast and an unprecedented socioeconomic collapse have left many Lebanese people with trauma, and mental and emotional scars.
Young Lebanese driving crypto 'revolution' after banks go bust - Timour Azhari, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Lebanon is the latest developing nation to witness a boom in cryptocurrency use driven by an economic crisis.
How websites registered to Lebanon’s country code domain almost disappeared from the web - Julien Ricour-Brasseur, L’Orient Today
The national network was saved at the last moment from a financial crisis that has been crippling the country for two years. To understand how things got here, we must trace this Lebanese-style administrative fiasco.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
In the cradle of the Syrian revolution, renewed violence shows reconciliation is still elusive - Sarah Dadouch, The Washington Post
“The outbreak of violence in Daraa, located in southern Syria close to the Jordanian border, underscores how anti-government resistance continues to simmer even in areas recaptured by Assad’s forces.”
Braving intimidation, hundreds of Iraqi women run for parliament - Charlotte Bruneau, Reuters
Passing a new domestic violence law, and more representation for women in the executive branch of government, are among the goals of some of the would-be female lawmakers.
My Amazigh Indigeneity (the Bifurcated Roots of a Native Moroccan) - Brahim el Guabli, Jadaliyya
“Studying Amazigh cultural production from the United States, where I live and work, reminds constantly of my duty as a native speaker of Amazigh language to draw on the rich resources we have in this country to unlock some of Amazigh culture’s vistas of knowledge for the benefit of my students and community. It is also my way to reclaim my indigeneity, albeit far from home.”
Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Algeria: From the summit of power to the depths of hell - Adlène Meddi, Middle East Eye
The former president, who died last week, believed it was his destiny to rule Algeria - but his final years ended in humiliation and protest.
The woman reviving Egypt's Nubian heritage - Bahira Amin, BBC
Nubian filmmaker Hafsa Amberkab is reclaiming the power of narrative by connecting younger generations to their language and culture that was lost in their drowned ancestral land.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
The Netflix Teen Drama That Goes Deeper Into the Arab Patriarchy - Yasmine Al-Sayyad, The New Yorker
“AlRawabi School for Girls,” a series set in Jordan, is bold in its willingness to depict young women weaponizing patriarchal violence against one another, to ultimately chilling ends.
On the Screen, Libyans Learned About Everything but Themselves - Mohammed Alnaas, Newlines Magazine
For decades, moviegoers’ love of Western pop culture blacked out any reflective cinema.
When a Minivan Becomes a Music Machine - Isabelia Herrera, The New York Times
Inside the world of Dominican car culture, where customized sound systems are an art of their own.
Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed's Arabic Jazz Fusion is a Beautiful Testament to the Power of Hybrid Identity - Dalia Al-Dujaili, Azeema
Following the release of Yazz Ahmed’s most recent album, Polyhymnia, Azeema sat down with the Bahraini-British musician to hear about her journey so far and get a better taste for the wonderfully versatile world of modern jazz.
On ‘JOSE,’ J Balvin Made the Music He Wants To Listen To - Alexis Hodoyan-Gastelum, Remezcla
‘JOSE’ is a carefully curated collection of tracks that vacillates between nostalgic early J Balvin vibes; the EDM meets trap streaming-friendly behemoths that translate well for his newfound global audience; and his signature more melodic “sexy,” as he calls them, moments.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Black Muslims: Finding community and faith in South L.A. - Sarah Parvini, Los Angeles Times
“African American Muslims represent nearly one-third of Muslims in the U.S., data show, and about 15% of mosque attendees in Southern California. Though many congregants at the handful of mosques in South L.A. are Black, worshippers of various ethnicities fill their halls.”
Jaylen Brown on why it’s important for the Celtics and NBA to hire African American head coaches - Marc J. Spears, The Undefeated
“Whether it was because they were just trying to shut us up, or because they actually believed it was the right thing to do, it don’t matter to me. That representation is important.”
Inflated housing costs are shutting Afghan refugees out of communities - Aysha Khan, Prism
As Afghan refugees arrive in the U.S., many are left without proper housing and few resources to get settled in.
Four Months Ago, Biden Said Haiti Wasn’t Safe. Now He’s Deporting Thousands There. - Natasha Lennard, The Intercept
The Biden administration is using a Trump-era policy to justify mass deportations — only Biden is doing it at a faster pace.
The Crisis of COVID-19 Misinformation in Spanish-Language Media - Paola Ramos, Vogue
“We know that mis- and disinformation isn’t well monitored when it’s in English—but the reality is, it’s virtually nonexistent in Spanish.”