Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Shireen Salti
Today marks 10 months since the Port of Beirut blast, and we are nowhere close to knowing what triggered the fire that caused the explosion, let alone any kind of accountability. There has not been an honest, transparent investigation or judicial process. And at this point, why should the Lebanese people even expect one?
Lebanon has been without a government for nearly two years, operating in caretaker status in the meantime. And as the people continue to bear the brunt of the economic collapse and the healthcare crisis, Lebanon’s leaders continue to bicker with each other over the formation of a government.
All of these events don’t happen in a vacuum. This stems from a decades-long system of power that was designed to deprive the people.
We should not be surprised that we still do not have any tangible answers or accountability for the blast. The Lebanese government and Lebanese institutions have proven time and again that they simply don’t care. How could they? This continues to be deliberate depression at the hands of corrupt people who remain completely apathetic to the situation in Lebanon and the people they are supposed to serve.
I sound like a broken record, I know. But here we are, 10 months later, and nothing.
I could go on, but we should go ahead and get right into it. I am so excited to introduce our guest feature for this week: Shireen Salti!
Shireen is a fluently bilingual, first-generation Palestinian woman, and the Executive Director of the Canadian Arab Institute, where her strategic leadership is amplifying the voices and policy priorities of Arab-Canadian youth. Shireen’s own lived experience is complimented by a Masters in Public Policy, Administration and Law and a Graduate Diploma in Judicial Administration from York University. These academic pursuits have fueled her passion for meaningful reform of the systems and policies meant to support the “Arab” experience in Canada. When not knee-deep in research and policy, Shireen can be found reading, writing spoken-word poetry, meditating, listening to Drake, or in her kitchen, experimenting with authentic Palestinian “Qudsi” recipes from her birthplace — Jerusalem.
Shireen is Palestine and Toronto through and through. A person who truly dedicates all of her time fighting for the Arab diaspora in Canada, Shireen also just has such a passion for music that clearly shines in her song selections:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“El Koffeyeh Arabeyye” by Shadia Mansour featuring M-1 of Dead Prez. Shadia has long been an idol of mine since I discovered her hip-hop songs with Lowkey in 2010. I have been listening to this song on the daily to enlighten my spirit and empower me as I navigate my work as a Palestinian-Canadian woman addressing anti-Palestinian racism in Canada through research and political advocacy.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“The Morning” by The Weeknd. This can be a “sipping on my coffee” morning song, a therapeutic long drive in Toronto song, or late night jam with friends. I have been a huge fan of the Weeknd since the release of House of Balloons. I’ve watched him perform this song live at Sound Academy, Toronto in 2013 then later in Coachella, Palm Springs in 2018. As a young woman from the 6ix (Toronto), it was the most surreal experience watching his “California is the mission” come to life.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Ah so many! I will have to go with “Ya Osas” by Julia Boutros. My mom used to play this song in the car on our way to Jerusalem from Ramallah every Sunday when visiting our grandmother. When I play the song, I recall the checkpoints we had to cross, the young Palestinian boys trying to earn a living by selling gum at the checkpoints, the osas/stories we used to hear on the way about my mother’s journey as a Jerusalemite.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Every Drake song. I’ll pick “0-100 / The Catch Up”. I always fall in love with his songs that dedicate the second half to the more slow beat and relentless momentum. In the Catch Up, these words resonate so much: “Been on the move like the lease is up… Cause I am only 27 and I am only getting better, if I haven’t catched you yet, watch me catch up now”.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Gurellia Remix” by Soolking featuring Sofiane and GIMS. I can’t live without Algerian music. Algerian rappers like Soolking give me a level of energy like no other. Algerians at large have a spirit that resonates with Palestinians all over the world. Guerilla means rebel/freedom fighter/revolutionary. Whenever I feel down, Soolking never fails to lift me up.
Big shout out to Shireen for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Shireen’s songs are included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And definitely follow Shireen on Twitter and check out all of the incredible work happening at the Canadian Arab Institute!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Bizarre - Khtek
Aminata - De.Ville
Habiba - 200 Shams
Jalousie - MOH
Mirror A Dream - Malak
Dancing in the Waves - Kurls featuring LAILANA
Oh Bébé - DJ Sem featuring DYSTINCT
Majnoonik Ana - Hamada Nashawaty
Los Cuervos - Abyusif
Skydiver - Marwa Loud featuring ISK
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Tú Sí Sabes Quererme - Natalia Lafourcade featuring Mare Advertencia Lirika and Rubén Blades
Sugar - Jambeau
Baby I’m Back - Baby Bash featuring Akon
Fulanito - Becky G featuring El Alfa
bésame mucho - Alaina Castillo
Mundo Nuevo - Alex Cuba featuring Lila Downs
Carnaval - Cheo
Olvídate de Todo - Magali Delarosa
LO NECESARIO - Aissa featuring Lucas Otero and BOUZA
Elma Maria - Maffio featuring Darrell and Don Miguelo
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Tactics - Japanese Breakfast
Dumebi (Michael Brun Remix) - Rema featuring Becky G and Mavins
Talk - Coldplay
Party On Mars - Shanté
Deep Pockets - Drake
Uknowhowwedu - Bahamadia
Hood Politics - Kendrick Lamar
Sittin’ Sidewayz - Paul Wall featuring Big Pokey
Lost Cause - Billie Eilish
Body - Julia Jacklin
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
In Beirut’s disaster-stricken neighborhoods, nightlife (almost) gets its rhythm back - Lyanna Alameddine, L’Orient Le Jour
The old districts of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael are packed to the rafters, but illusion has its limits.
Bitter pill: Lebanon's medical crisis set to get even worse - Maha El Dahan and Alaa Kanaan, Reuters
The financial crisis that is gripping Lebanon, described by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions in modern history, is taking its toll on the healthcare system.
“Lebanon First:” On the Politics of Neutrality on a Moving Train - Lara Bitar, The Public Source
“So-called political neutrality, while not new as neither demand nor discourse, is increasingly adopted by the Lebanese as a means of attaining security and prosperity within the dominant global dis-order. But, as a violent campaign of ethnic cleansing resurged next door in historic Palestine, this politics of disengagement materialized in its ugliest of forms.”
'Test case' for Lebanon's new sexual harassment law - Timour Azhari, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Six women told of repeated unwanted advances by director Jaafar al-Attar in a test case for Lebanon's new sexual harassment law.
Dear Lebanon: Nando’s Is Not The House it Once Was - Wissam Assouad, Daraj
A heartfelt eyewitness account of August 4, 2020. Wissam was with his friends in Karantina until an hour before the explosion. Moments later, he rushed back to a scene of utter devastation to see if any of them were still alive.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Because of Palestine - N.A. Mansour, Contingent Magazine
"My colleagues don’t want to be told they’re not objective, to be told of their harmful biases, or to be told that my biases make me a better scholar."
A 6-Year-Old Was Chained and Hungry in a Syrian Camp. Then She Died. - Hwaida Saad, The New York Times
Nahla al-Othman lived in a tent camp for displaced Syrians where her father often chained her to stop her from wandering. She was malnourished and choked to death while eating too quickly.
Iraq: Protesters Die Demanding a Homeland - Aya Mansour, Daraj
“Dozens of people fell. Friends were kidnapped and disappeared. And yet the chairs of power did not budge. This hurts me, makes me cry and hate myself and the day I was born here. To see such injustice and not being able to change it, even though we tried. I swear, we tried. We tried so much that we wasted the blood of 650 dreams, and thoughts, and laughs, and innocent faces. But our attempts were not enough. We lost and the government did not lose a thing. Its influence and tyranny only increased.”
This is America: I was arrested in the USA. My mother was detained in Israel. - Andrea May Sahouri, USA Today
As I was transported to Iowa’s Polk County jail, my hands zip-tied behind my back and eyes burning with pepper spray, I thought about my mother’s experience being strip searched and thrown in an Israeli detention cell.
He watched two missiles destroy his bookshop. ‘My soul came out of me’ - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
“A week after the 11-day armed confrontation between Israel and Hamas ended in an uneasy truce, the 2 million people sardined into this impoverished coastal enclave are trying to map out a Gaza transformed yet again by war. Among the litany of loss — at least 248 people dead, tens of thousands more displaced, over 1,000 housing and commercial units damaged — is the destruction of the Samir Mansour Bookstore, a place that for many here was a cultural mecca.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
The era of MTV’s chart-making show and the high-gloss talent it championed are long gone. On Lorem, a new generation of bedroom pop hitmakers gets its due.
What is Asian Music, Really? - Cat Zhang, Pitchfork
Seeking more than representation, a critic tries to make sense of a fragmented, disparate musical tradition.
How Japanese Breakfast Builds An Album, Sound By Sound - Kira Grunenberg, NPR
Michelle Zauner and Craig Hendrix on the science of collaboration.
Folk singer Mustafa: ‘I’m trying to preserve the memories of young Black Muslims’- Aina J Khan, The Guardian
The poet, a songwriter for artists including The Weeknd, explains how music helped him explore the loss of friends to inner-city violence: ‘Sorrow is meant to be experienced and felt’
How Olivia Rodrigo Became a Canvas for Millennial Nostalgia - Julia Gray, The Ringer
You don’t need to be a teen to love the teen pop star’s debut, ‘Sour’
📚 Other Reads 📚
Naomi Osaka Is Part of a Larger War Within Sports - Jemele Hill, The Atlantic
The tennis star’s fight with the French Open is a disagreement over who should make the rules—and how much power athletes have to protect themselves.
Guatemalan lives upturned by failed immigration bids - Sonia Pérez D., Associated Press
“Jerónimo’s story is similar to that of thousands of Guatemalans who scramble to gather the money needed to migrate to the United States. Often it comes from relatives already living in the U.S. or networks of informal lenders. Sometimes migrants must sell their possessions, including their homes, or like Jerónimo, use the deeds as collateral. They are driven by the chance of breaking the cycle of poverty that affects 60% of the country’s population.”
The Business of Basketball - Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker
Rich Paul is known for driving hard bargains for star clients, giving them new power in the NBA.
U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands still affects Marshallese lives in the pandemic - Lovely Umayam, Prism
Young Marshallese people in the Ozarks are reconnecting with their heritage by helping their community weather the onslaught of COVID-19.
‘Where will we be in 50 days?’ The Tokyo Olympics are still set to go on, but at what cost? - Dan Robson, The Athletic
With COVID-19 still raging in Japan, there are mounting calls to cancel the Olympics, a broiling controversy that will define these Games.