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Guest Feature: Zainab Mudallal
Well 2021 is really off to a difficult start, to say the least. If anything, it kind of feels like “part two” of 2020. There’s an overflow of information, traumatic and dangerous events that we haven’t even processed, and we’re still trying to navigate a pandemic that is close to taking 2 million lives from us.
I know I’ve said this many times before, but I can’t stress it enough. PLEASE find the time for yourself. That’s not to be dismissive of the very real feelings and threats to people’s safety, trust me. I just hope that you are able to step away, set those boundaries, delegate the work, and tell people “no” when you can. Nobody should be expected to operate at full capacity right now. And while taking these actions may feel small and trivial, they can go a long way.
If you’re looking for a little bit of an escape, I recommend checking these out:
The new Selena podcast from WBUR & Futuro Studios, “Anything For Selena”
This NPR Tiny Desk episode with artists from Japan, Peru, Guinea and Tunisia
Okay, let’s go ahead and get into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Zainab Mudallal!
Zainab is an Iraqi-American journalist based in D.C. She is currently an assistant Operations editor at The Washington Post, where she works on audience development and digital strategy for the Opinions section, and is particularly interested in showcasing Arab voices.
Zainab is a real one out here really trying to uplift voices from our community. In fact, it’s because of her that I was able to have an op-ed published in The Post back in August. And frankly, Zainab is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve met and has a really dope taste in music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
"Good Days" by SZA. SZA is one of my favorite artists, I actually met her at a meet and greet for her Ctrl tour in Boston. This song feels like a big hug, which we could all use right now.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I know this is cheesy, but Drake's "Marvin's Room" always gets me in my feels. A bonus, JoJo's cover is also fire. Also, "Self Control" by Frank Ocean, particularly that reprise at the end. It's so hard NOT to sing along.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This is a difficult question because I am not sure where home is. I was born and grew up in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, but my family left there after I moved and I haven't been back in years. But every bar or club we went to, they pretty much always "Danza Kuduro" by Don Omar and Lucenzo, and we always jammed to it. A classic.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I know all the words to a LOT of songs. I'm most confident about "The Way" by Kehlani featuring Chance the Rapper. Including Chance's verse! This song (and mixtape, You Should Be Here) was when I first discovered Kehlani, too, and I think it is her best work.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Big shout out to Zainab for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Zainab’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And be sure to follow her on Twitter where you can find all of her funny tweets and her undying love for Manchester United.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Sombrero - Stormy
Ma 3Alena - Shahyn
Lamma Titaffa - Slow Moe
Anyab - Dareen
Je me promets - Meryem Aboulouafa
Aquí - AriBeatz featuring Soolking and Ozuna
Ahwak - Hiba featuring Zeid Hamdan
Desert Rain - Aortah featuring The Unknown Gypsy
Khalsana - Abo El Anwar featuring Lil Baba
Ghyabek Tawel - Redone Berhil
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
De Una Vez - Selena Gomez
Soltero - Marko Silva featuring El Villano
Perdón (Acabo de ver tu llamada) - Ivana
Fuego - Sashi featuring Elemental Raggamuffin and JL Ruiz
ANTES QUE SALGA EL SOL - Natti Natasha featuring Prince Royce
Calla Tú - Danna Paola
Mojo - Caztro featuring Marissa Mur
Bandido - Myke Towers featuring John
Rehenes - Jossef
No Te Debí Besar - C. Tangana featuring Paloma Mami and Alizzz
🎼 Other Music 🎼
If I Can’t Have You - Yvonne Elliman
Fool’s Paradise - Meli’sa Morgan
Addicted To Your Love - Jagged Edge
Hopscotch - Opal
He Said - dvsn featuring Miguel
London - Tomi Agape
Show Me - LATENIGHTJIGGY
Sending My Love - Zhané
Shot Clock - Ella Mai
Secrets - Justine Skye
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
‘Very anxious’: Lebanon’s ICU doctors fear unfolding COVID surge - Timour Azhari, Al Jazeera
Front-line doctors say emergency departments are overwhelmed as cases spike following holiday easing of restrictions.
Lebanon's civil society holds key to national rehabilitation - Bilal Y. Saab, ABC News
Our only shot at helping Lebanon rebuild itself is its civil society.
Anchors - Farrah Berrou, Tim Atkin
“An anchor can be good as well as bad: it’s a stabilizer that keeps you from drifting with the tide, but it also confines your movement. It keeps you from moving on.”
How the state’s COVID-19 lockdown plan fails Lebanon’s most vulnerable - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
As Lebanon heads into what will be — on paper at least — its strictest lockdown yet to halt the out-of-control spread of COVID-19, some are worried that the country’s most vulnerable residents have been left as an afterthought.
‘The Goal Is to Be the Middle Eastern Martha Stewart’: Edouard Massih is ready to go big. - Caleb Pershan, Grub Street
For Edouard Massih, the successful opening of Edy's Grocer, a Lebanese deli, is just the start of something bigger.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Young people in Iraq have been protesting for civil rights and a better economy for more than a year — here's what it looks like on the ground - Samara Abramson and Sofia Nitti, Business Insider
Young people in Iraq are protesting for civil rights, a solution to record-high unemployment, and an end to government corruption.
Israel’s Vaccination Drive Is Going Great. But We’re Being Sidelined. - Mustafa Barghouti, The New York Times
The country can’t reach herd immunity without vaccinating Palestinians.
Dispatches of an Insufferable Third Culture Kid - Elias Jahshan, My.Kali Mag
“‘Where are you from?’ I always cringe whenever I’m asked this question. It happens a lot, and I despise it.”
Loujain al-Hathloul Is Not a Terrorist - Lina al-Hathloul and Alia al-Hathloul, Marie Claire
On December 28, 2020, 31-year-old Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced to nearly six years in prison through the kingdom's Specialized Criminal Court. (She has 30 days to appeal.) Here, al-Hathloul's sisters, Lina and Alia al-Hathloul, share Loujain's story,in their own words, and why they will never stop fighting for their sister's freedom.
Something in the water: the compelling tales of London's oldest Arabic bookstore - Jamie Prentis, The National
Al Saqi Books is a British institution with its own page in history.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
Dancing in the Dark - Alex Morris, Rolling Stone
How Dua Lipa ignored the trends, turned herself into a “female alpha,” and delivered the modern disco classic we didn’t know we needed.
Tupac Shakur bares his torso: Danny Clinch's best photograph - Daniel Dylan Wray, The Guardian
“In the back of my mind, I was dreaming of a Rolling Stone cover even though the assignment was a quarter-page. When he died in 1996, the photo finally ended up on the cover.”
For DJs, New Year’s Eve usually means a fat paycheck. This year, it meant isolation and fear - August Brown, Los Angeles Times
Here's why DJs who follow COVID safety protocols — and sadly take the financial hit — are frustrated with those who don't.
Steve McQueen’s Ethos of Generosity - David Sims, The Atlantic
“I’m a massive fan of cinema, but sometimes you have to go where the people are,” the Oscar-winning Small Axe director told The Atlantic.
The “Animaniacs” Reboot Revives the Zany and Regurgitates the Meta - Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker
Their wackiness makes the “animated maniacs” ripe for psychoanalyzing, but do so at your peril.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Race - Sam Sanders, NPR
“We are a country built on fabrication, nostalgia and euphemism. And every time America shows the worst of itself, all the contradictions collapse into the lie I've heard nonstop for the last several years: ‘This isn't who we are.’”
Tribal Elders Are Dying From the Pandemic, Causing a Cultural Crisis for American Indians - Jack Healy, The New York Times
The virus has killed American Indians at especially high rates, robbing tribes of precious bonds and repositories of language and tradition.
Trump Has Incited Violence All Along. The GOP Just Didn’t Care Until Now. - Amanda Terkel, HuffPost
He has consistently gone after Muslim Americans, journalists, protesters and others. Where was the outrage then?
Calling the Capitol riot ‘terrorism’ will only hurt communities of color - Diala Shamas and Tarek Ismail, The Washington Post
Using the right words doesn’t flip some magical switch that forces agencies to go after those plotting harm.
It Took a Genocide for Me to Remember My Uighur Roots - Amelia Pang, The New York Times
Since 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has gradually established policies that threaten Uighur culture and identity. Amelia Pang’s family’s forced assimilation is a part of that story.
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