The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual

DIASPORA: The Alternative Arabic Mix

In an age of travel bans, refugee crises, political protests, and rebellion against stereotypes, there are also musical artists here to talk about it all.

This is a list that focuses on Arab musicians who refuse to let things passively happen to them, who reclaim their narratives by engaging with concepts of identity, politics, and culture. And they do so in a very fresh style that I like to call “alternative Arabic.” They go beyond the sappy modern Arabic pop styles by including rap or electronic beats, with lyrics that mean something. At the same time, they don’t disregard their Arab roots for a more favored Western musical style. They are inspired by classical Arabic lyrics, traditions, and rhythms.

These artists all differ in how much Arabic they include – Mashrou Leila is all in Arabic, Mona Haydar incorporates some Arabic phrases, and Odissee doesn’t include any – but what unites them all in my mind is that they redefine the path of what it means to be Arab and what Arab music consists of.

Feel free to listen to this while browsing through calligraffiti or reading about Middle Eastern politics and sipping some tea.

1. Lifting Shadows || Oddisee

The Couch Sessions

This movement of new Arabic music is very much led by Sudanese artists. There are 4 others on this list, but Odissee is one of my favorites. His lyrics specifically capture what it’s like to be a Sudanese-American and speak directly to present American fears. Even if you’re not a hip-hop fan, his lyrics are just too accurate to ignore.

2. Marikh || Mashrou’ Leila

Between Arabs

This is probably one of the saddest songs I’ve heard, and I only understand parts of it. ‘Marikh’ means Mars in Arabic, and Hamed Sinno’s voice will make you feel like you’re literally drifting into space. If you’re looking for more songs from the Lebanese band (and who wouldn’t after hearing this?), I would listen to their haunting Tiny Desk concert.

3. Figurine || Nawel Ben Kraïem


This French-Tunisian singer’s song may sound like an ordinary, pretty French song at the start, but the language switches halfway through to Arabic then back to French. The two tongues intermingle, just like Kraïem’s identities. She is focused on bringing the two cultures together and has also spoken about the Tunisian revolution.

4. Beirut || Yasmine Hamdan

Strictly Confidential

‘Beirut’ is actually a take on a traditional 1940s Lebanese song, and Hamdan turns into something haunting, nostalgic, and proud. Her acoustic version on Tiny Desk is also really good. Hamdan herself reminds me of a Lebanese Lana del Rey who bases a lot of her work on past Arabic musical tradition.

5. Hamdulillah || Narcy ft. Shadia Mansour

We Are the Media

Narcy is a Candian-Iraqi hip-hop artist known for his almost aggressive rap and moving lyrics. He tends to mix both Arabic and English lyrics while also combining Western hip-hop with classical Arabic music. Shadia Mansour, a British-Palestenian rapper also does the same, focusing especially on politics.

6. Syrianamericana || Omar Offendum


Though this is not one of Offendum’s more well known songs, this is definitely favorite. It takes a more upbeat tone than most of his other songs, but his smooth Arabic rapping does not falter. My favorite part is when he brings in his last name into the lyrics. Like Narcy and Mansour, who he has collaborated with, he mixes two musical and poetic traditions and sends a message with his music, usually focusing on his home country Syria. He also just released a new album you should check out here.

7. 3roos Elneel || Alsarah & The Nubatones


Alsarah describes the story behind this song, translated to ‘The Bride of the Nile,” as stemming from Sudanese folklore. She is a Sudanese-American ethnomusicologist, singer, and songwriter who used music to help her cope with her transition into America from Sudan. While her and her band’s songs are in Arabic and give strong East African vibes, there is a retro pop element to it that makes the combination so unique. Their music videos also offer a fitting, colorful supplement.

8. Alright || TooDope feat. MaMan (produced by Omar Majid)


I can’t get over the first part of this song. It’s conversational and musical, and just fun to listen to. TooDope brings in images and sounds familiar to those from Sudan: 3aseeda, curly hair, and the ‘aye’ in the back. He couples that with the very American words ‘dope’ and ‘y’all’ for a very lighthearted mix of the two identities.

9. Nouh Al Hamam || Maryam Saleh (produced by Oddisee)

Saint Heron

Egyptian singer, songwriter, and actress Maryam Saleh has a unique and captivating voice that adds a lot to the Middle Eastern alternative music scene. Her lyrics are also very poetic, with this song translating as ‘Moan of the Pigeon.’ And hey there’s Oddisee’s name again, demonstrating the strong ties and collaborations all these different artists from different backgrounds have had.

10. Born Here || DAM ft. Abeer Al Zinati


I personally prefer the Arabic version of this song (“Hon Enwaladet”), but the Arab-Israeli band has a music video for the Hebrew version with English translations here. Growing up as second-class citizens in Israel, they talk about their experiences and identity as Arab Israelis and unite the two through language. The word ‘dam’ means ‘blood’ in Hebrew and in ‘eternity’ in Arabic (also resembling the Arabic word for blood). In this song specifically, the image of their neighborhood as an embarrassed bride is something so unique but so effective at getting the point across.

11. Son || Sinkane

Huck Magazine

“We both know a home is not an origin / We both know a home is where one finds it,” Sinkane sings softly. He’s a Sudanese-American who speaks directly to anyone who struggles with the concept of home and identity. But don’t mistake him for losing his roots and Westernizing his music just because of this more American-leaning song. Other songs of his like “U’Huh” remind me of that pop East African tone Alsarah takes, while incorporating Arabic lyrics (and its music video is stunning).

12. Ya Sah || Khebez Dawle


This band may look like a typical hipster bunch, but their story is more complex. They are Syrian refugees, one member of whom was drafted into and left the army, another who was killed for his activism in the country. Their latest album reflects a shift in the revolution, starting with hope and ending with a more mournful tone. Though they are trained in classical Arabic music, they choose a rock approach, which still sounds just as hurtful, inspiring, and plain beautiful.

13. Cycles || Methal ft. X Ambassadors


In response to the travel ban, Spotify started an initiative in which they brought artists from the six banned countries to collaborate with American artists and create a playlist called “I’m with the Banned.” One of the songs to come out of this is Cycles, by Tunisian refugee Methal and the X Ambassadors. The lyrics and her story are haunting, and her voice is reminiscent of Shakira’s. It’s a wonderful song, and I recommend you listen the rest of the playlist.

14. Dog || Mona Haydar ft. Jackie Cruz


Syrian-American poet-turned-rapper recently released this song that has us at The Tempest totally inspired. Though her songs are for the entire Muslim community, I have her on this list because she is an Arab woman reclaiming her identity and being through her music while also utilizing Arabic phrases like, “Sawt al mara thowra” (“a woman’s voice is revolution.”)

15. Dyarom || Sammany Hajo


I think it fitting to frame this playlist with our final Sudanese artist: Sammany Hajo. He describes himself on Twitter as an “audio painter,” which I think is very fitting. He takes old and classic Sudanese songs and turns them into modern masterpieces by remixing them. The songs he produces sound amazing while paying homage to his homeland. His whole album is brilliant and sums up the essence of all these artists perfectly.

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The world as I knew it changed completely after this one encounter with science

I was a middle schooler in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry when my mother told me she bought tickets for an exhibit of dead bodies… Not really something a twelve-year-old, or anyone for that matter, expects to hear.

As we entered the BODY WORLDS exhibit through a dark hallway, I expected some creepy, mad-scientist, haunted house sort of stuff.

What I actually saw was something completely different.

On a case to my left there was a figure called “The Swordsman”, stripped of its skin and fat, left with its organs, muscle, and bone. That may still sound like that creepy, mad-scientist, haunted house image, but seeing it in person was beautiful and miraculous.

I spent about an hour and a half in the exhibit learning about how blood flows through our bodies, what a fetus looks like at every stage of development, and how we digest food. The lectures from my biology class came to life and finally stuck. At the same time, it was just really amazing to look at.

The cadavers come from people who donate their bodies to this project. The founder of the international exhibition, Gunther von Hagens, asserts full consent and extensive documentation of using the bodies. The body parts are then preserved through Plastination, a process developed by von Hagens. Using polymer chemistry, they replace the water and fat in the bodies with plastics that harden even a single nerve without leaving a smell. The bodies and body parts can be arranged in creative and educational ways depending on the purpose of the display.

As the website says, the purpose of the entire exhibit is to inform viewers to make better decisions for their health and to encourage them to learn about anatomy and physiology.

I’m not sure how much I got from the health aspect at the time, but I definitely was captured by the body so much so that this experience is one of the reasons I want to go into medicine. The exhibit made a wonder that is generally only accessible to physicians accessible to the world, without the accompanying stress, smells, and mess.

Not everyone who finds it fascinating has to make a career out of it though. Your relation to the exhibit can turn out to be something more personal and emotional. I learned how to appreciate my body and the work it does during a time when I started getting exposed to negative commentary about my and other women’s bodies. This exhibit is a force to combat body-shaming because it essentially helps you say, “Hey, look how amazing this body is, what it’s capable of doing, and I own it. It’s mine.”

However, the biggest influence BODY WORLDS had on me was letting me see how creative science was. It displayed a lot of the same facts I learned in class but turned it into art. They managed to make the gross cadaver into something beautiful, and I found a lesson in that.

This was important to me because I am both a poet and someone who studies science. BODY WORLDS taught me not just that it was okay to do both, but that the two can mesh together. Poetry finds beauty in the mundane, as does science. I incorporate science in my poems and make vivid stories when I study for my science classes.

The exhibit is international, and I encourage everyone to find the nearest one. Who knows what you’ll find inside you from staring at the insides of others?

TV Shows Pop Culture

30 hilarious “The Office” moments that’ll have you in absolute tears – and excited for the reboot

Big news.

There are rumors that a reboot of The Office might be happening. This is after NBC’s entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt announced that he wouldn’t mind the show coming back.

Rumors like this happen all the time, so this might mean nothing. However, I think we all deserve to take a break and appreciate the best moments from The Office.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. When Michael drives into a lake because the GPS tells him to

Basically the same way I deal with technology. (Dunder Mifflin Infinity)

2. When Kevin drops his famous chili everywhere

An accurate depiction of me at my lowest points. (Casual Friday)

3. When Michael teaches us about mental illness in the workplace

In the most effective way possible, of course. (Safety Training)

4. When Jim impersonates Dwight for a day

And Dwight impersonates him right back. (Product Recall)

5. When Jim comes to work looking a little different

Hats off to Dwight for not seeing race. (Andy’s Ancestry)

6. When Jim and Dwight throw Kelly a birthday party

Beige birthdays are totally in now. (Lecture Circuit)

7. When the office celebrates pretzel day

Aka one of the only episodes when we see Stanley smile. (Initiation)

8. When Michael, Jim, and Dwight pull off these amazing disguises

BRB, just investing in some fake mustaches for my espionage side hobby. (Branch Wars)

9. When Michael jumps on a train to run away from his life

Right after he declared bankruptcy. (Money)

10. When poor Oscar tries his best at a Southern accent

I’ve never been more uncomfortable for a person, fictional or otherwise. (Murder)

11. When Michael is just so happy to find out Jim and Pam are engaged

If your friend doesn’t tackle you like that when you reveal the big news, they are not your friend. (Business Ethics)

12. When Kelly talks as the confrontational and confident woman we all wish to be

But she also pretended she was pregnant earlier… (Night Out)

13. When Michael steps on a Foreman grill

And seized the opportunity to showcase what it’s like to be “disabled.” (The Injury)

14. When Michael says exactly what’s on all our minds all the time

Real talk. (Stress Relief)

15. When the entire office takes us back to our camp days

On their way to Laverne’s Pie Stand, which still sounds like the best place on earth. (Work Bus)

16. When Andy and Dwight get along for a brief moment and produce beautiful harmonies

This is one you have to listen to. (Michael Scott Paper Company)

17. When Pam, Ryan, and Kevin describe movie plots instead of their deepest traumas

Okay, but how did Michael not get the Mufasa reference(Grief Counseling)

18. When Ryan saves us from what would be a horrific entry into Creed’s mind

He has said so many odd things that I really don’t want to know the story behind. (The Job)

19. When Prison Mike gives a raw and candid account of what prison is like

And scares us straight(The Convict)

20. When Pam rejects Ryan without any shame

A big win for Jim as well as our own clingy, little hearts. (Dunder Mifflin Infinity)

21. When Michael and Jan host a dinner party

The most painful episode to watch. So. Much. Cringe(Dinner Party)

22. When Michael went back on his promise of paying a whole class’s college tuitions

Hey Mr. Scott, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do? Make our dreams come true. (Scott’s Tots)

23. When Michael hits Meredith with his car

Essentially saving her life. (Fun Run)

24. When Stanley yells at Ryan on “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”

This is scarier than the “Did I stutter” outburst towards Michael. (Take Your Daughter to Work Day)

25. When Dwight kicks Pam’s friend in the face right before Pam walks down the aisle

As anyone would want on their wedding day, really. (Niagara: Part II)

26. When Michael Scott holds a pizza delivery guy hostage

And the whole office slowly realizes it’s a crime(Launch Party)

27. When Dwight teaches the office how to do CPR

The stuff of horror movies. (Stress Relief)

28. When Michael realizes Toby is back

This is my most used gif(Frame Toby)

29. When Michael shoots everyone in improv class and teaches us what real acting looks like

The same episode he runs away from the IT guy he mistakes for a terrorist. (Email Surveillance)

30. When Dwight simulates a fire to teach the office a lesson


This. This is my all-time favorite scene of the whole show. (Stress Relief)

These don’t even scratch the surface of all the amazing Office moments, so share your own on Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s to clinging on to that hope of new scenes to reminisce about in the future.
Books Pop Culture

10 short stories by women that’ll keep you more entertained than your Instagram feed

When you’re in a long line, stuck in traffic, or in the doctor’s waiting room, you probably pull out your phone and scroll through social media, right?

Well, I have another form of entertainment for you: short stories.

Short stories are awesome because you get the emotional impact of a full story but in 30 minutes tops. It’s like a more portable (and more educational?) Netflix. Just pop up a short story and leave your mundane waiting for a bit, then come right back.

When I first got into short stories, I noticed that my favorite ones were often written by women. So I’ve decided to compile a list for those boring moments when you need a quick but moving story to keep you entertained.

1. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

This is one of the first short stories I remember reading, and it’s a classic. It’s almost like an entire dystopian drama compacted into 8 pages. The last time I read it was 5 years ago, but I still remember the unnerving last scene very clearly.

2. “The Flowers” by Alice Walker

“The Flowers” is only 9 paragraphs long, and the paragraphs are max 5 sentences. It’s super short and easy to read, but still  powerful. After the first sentences, it may seem like a cute little story about flowers, but keep reading. Walker’s ability to transform it into something completely different so subtly is magical.

3. “Rape Fantasies” by Margaret Atwood

If I had to choose one favorite on this list, it would be “Rape Fantasies.” It’s painful, humorous, and conversational all at once, in a way only Atwood can achieve. She’s one of the best writers of our time, and this story is no exception. While there’s no major violence happening in this story, it is vivid and I’d take caution if this is a painful subject for you.

4. “A Telephone Call” by Dorothy Parker

On a lighter note, this one is for all of you waiting for someone to text back. This was written in 1928 but it’s still so relatable today, maybe even more so now that we have iPhones in everyone’s hands. It also hints at bigger themes, like the forced dependence of women on men at the time. Maybe this will inspire you to look at how far we’ve come. Or maybe not.

5. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri

Lahiri has a way of combining two cultures so effortlessly into one story without making the story about culture clash. The characters will get on your nerves but will also leave you sympathetic for them. Their multi-dimensionality is what really struck me in this story. And, of course, it’s also just entertaining to read.

6. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The color yellow takes on a totally different meaning for anyone who reads this. If you want to be a writer, this is especially important to read because this is the perfect example of a story that “shows” instead of “tells.” It’s an uncomfortable yet beautifully written story.

7. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

This is probably Chopin’s most well known story, and rightfully so. She was a controversial feminist writer during her time – this story was written in 1894 – which gives you all the more reason to read it. It’s really short, but just as well developed. The last sentence gives me goose bumps every time I read it.

8. “Distant View of a Minaret” by Alifa Rifaat

Rifaat, to me, is the rural Egyptian Chopin. This specific story is so similar to “The Story of an Hour” it’s scary because Rifaat was practically uninfluenced by Western culture, having only spoken Arabic and rarely traveled. It gives you a good perspective into what some women on the other side of the world had to go through, too. Like in Chopin’s story, this ending gets me every time.

(Side note: I can’t find the story online except in the Amazon preview version of it. It’s the first one in the book, so you can view it for free. But, you know, you should also buy the book because she has some other good stories in there.)

9. “The Arrangements” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie was asked to write a piece imagining a Trump victory for the New York Times prior to Trump’s actual victory (RIP). It’s absolutely hilarious and will leave you reminiscing about the pre-Trump days. I’ve also heard great things about Adichie and want to read her novels, so this story was a great introduction to her work.

10. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor

So much to think about in this story. Race and racism, wealth and class, family and generation gaps, arrogance and bias….you name it. Every spoken word and every little glance is important. This is all written in the context of one bus ride in 60s, all in 10 pages.

There you have it, my definitive list to escaping boredom through stories by awesome women. Much better than Netflix, right?

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

Netflix made a hashtag for the moment that changed my life

Growing up as a minority in a country surrounded by television and film that features the same kind of characters is tough. You start internalizing what “normal” means. When you realize you don’t fit that standard, you feel out of place and try as hard as possible to fit that vision of normal.

To combat that, Netflix has created a video campaign starring cast members from Dear White People and Orange is the New Black to talk about what representation means to them. There is also an accompanying hashtag, #FirstTimeISawMe, to engage its audience and create a conversation out of this crucial matter.

Yes, I call it a crucial matter. It might not seem like that big of deal, but let me take you back to the first time I saw me.

I grew up mostly watching Disney Channel, PBS Kids, and Nickelodeon. The only Arab or Muslim characters I saw was on Arab television, which I never watched. This made me feel as if I had to fit into one group or the other; there was no “in-between” category.

When all I saw were the same characters, with the same struggles and backstories, I thought I had to mold myself into that. All of the cool characters I looked up to didn’t look or act like me. I quickly learned that in order to be like them, I couldn’t be myself. When Arabs and Muslims were on screen, they were terrorists or, at the very least, foreigners.

The first time I really saw myself was in a short episode of Proud Family that showed Penny Proud living with a Muslim family for a week. They didn’t exactly represent me, and it relied a lot on tropes, but I still remember flipping out and excitedly calling my mom over when I saw one of the Muslim characters explain what fasting was to Penny. The episode also wasn’t afraid to show others’ opinions of Muslims. This came in the form of Penny’s initial antagonism, as well as her friends and family seeing the Muslim family as weird, and even vandalism of the Muslim family’s house. But the episode works hard to depict the family as kind neighbors and members of the community without stripping them of their heritage.

A couple of years later, when my Jewish friend and I realized that what we were seeing in movies didn’t represent us, we watched a movie called Arranged. It was about two Brooklyn teachers, a Syrian Muslim and an Orthodox Jew, who come from fairly traditional families, and have parents pushing them to get married. It follows their friendship, shuts down ignorance, and depicts the women’s similar struggles. They mixed Arabic and Hebrew with their English, didn’t have accents (unless you count the Brooklyn accent), and weren’t secluded from the rest of their community. It also talked about diversity in all aspects, not just focusing on Muslims and Jews.

This was not a well-known movie, and I have no clue how my friend found it. The acting was awkward and the plot stale at times. Nevertheless, it was something. I’m pretty sure my friend and I started tearing up.

These moments of recognizing myself with media, made me feel okay being different. It normalized my identities.

I say the matter is crucial because these shows do more than help young kids like me develop into themselves. It also gives people an image of what a certain group is like. If all viewers are seeing is images of Muslims as terrorists and they don’t actually know any Muslims, then yeah, they’re going to be afraid. When they see them as a non-homogenous clump of people, they can start recognizing them as humans.

It’s important to aim for more than just diversity. The real goal should be giving these “diverse” characters actual complex personalities. It’s not enough to throw a girl wearing a hijab on-screen as a background character and call that good.

Arranged was a beautiful movie, but I want to see myself in movie theaters, not in the hidden corners of the film industry. I want to see a Muslim or Arab character be the lead of a movie and not have her main element be about being Muslim or Arab. I also want people to understand the depth of what it means to be a Muslim or Arab American. I don’t want them relying on tropes of what Muslim is, or treating Arab and Desi culture as one. At the same time, I don’t want them to whitewash my character to be more digestible to the American public.

I see where we are today, and we’re doing better. Dear White People is highlighting black voices, Spider-Man: Homecoming showcases main characters who aren’t white, Everything, Everything depicts an interracial couple without it being about how they’re an interracial couple.

But there’s still work to be done.

Let’s hear out the voices of #FirstTimeISawMe and work towards more encompassing television screens.


Are we hard-wired to be racist?

We’ve all heard the “I don’t see color” remark, and we’ve likely heard arguments against it.

The big problem with the statement is that we do see color, and forgetting that is just hiding the issue, instead of actively working against it. There’s also a scientific component to this.

To begin, let’s think about how we define race. Anthropologists and sociologists have agreed on the fact that race is a social construct. This is because there is so much variation within groups and groups mix together so often that there really there are no clear lines differentiating one person as one race and another person as another. Are there 5 races or 500? The process becomes too messy and doesn’t make any sense.

Then why do we have racial categories?

This is where the science comes in.

The concept of race is essentially emotional, no logic involved. The only reason we have these categories is because we perceive them. We develop emotional responses to people unlike us. It becomes a problem when we let that emotion dictate our behavior.

The debate is where that emotion and the brain structures that provoke that emotion come from.

We know that we have specific brain structures associated with fear, disgust, and, as some researchers propose, prejudice. Such structures include the amygdala, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

That’s no excuse to be racist though. It is also proposed that we have structures involved in suppressing these emotional impulses, like the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the inferior frontal gyrus.

The ACC has been shown to be activated when there is conflict between impulse and deliberate response. In a specific study, it was shown that people who are motivated in controlling their prejudices tend to have greater ACC activity than those who care less about controlling and display more blatant racism.

While it is very likely that there are potential confounding factors in these studies, like the fact that this might be about group identity rather than race, let’s assume their claims are legitimate.

Evolution versus Culture

The evolutionary reasoning is that these structures were advantageous back when people were organized by tribes. It made sense for you to have a fear response towards someone that looked different because they were a legitimate threat. Now, we are just left with the brains of our ancestors in a world that’s not like theirs.

The other side explains it more from a cultural level. Environment can impact biology just as much as biology can impact environment. What if it is just that racist thoughts/behavior molds the brain a specific way and has been happening for so long that it shows up in our minds today?

Or even if this isn’t happening on a societal level, maybe it’s happening in individual development.

What these studies assume is that we live in a world where equality is the moral norm and every person and system strives to reach that norm. In reality, discrimination and bias are encouraged in several spheres of the world. “Normal” might mean a more subtle form of racism.

Evolution and Culture

With that in mind, it might not be that we are born with a fear response ingrained inside us, but that, depending where we develop, our minds actually shape to allow for this lack of resistance against emotional impulse. Like how outgroup-fear is reinforced in tribal groups, today it may be reinforced in a way like telling a racist joke in a classroom and getting laughs. You lower your inhibition and soon enough your brain is impacted by that.

The effects on the brain may just be a reflection of your beliefs and experiences rather than your brain molding your beliefs.

Biology, explained by evolution or not, and culture can also combine. If you have a brain less capable of emotional inhibition, a racist culture may have a bigger impact on your behavior. But whatever the reasoning is, we still all have structures involved in suppressing emotional impulses. Just like someone with an aggression-prone brain does not have an excuse to punch people because it’s “her nature,” someone who has a harder time with emotional inhibition does not have an excuse to be racist.

So … maybe we do have some evolutionary reason to categorize and discriminate other people and maybe we don’t. But what we definitely know is that racism and prejudice is ingrained in our societies. So much so that it actually can shape the way our brains work. Fortunately for us, we’ve actually evolved some pretty great rationalizing brain mechanisms that help us figure out racism is wrong and unfounded. It is our job to evaluate where certain prejudices are coming from culturally and dismantle it within ourselves and our society. After all, we are hard-wired to be rational.

Books Pop Culture

Those Instagram poets are ruining everything good in the world – this is why I’m against them

Unpopular opinion: I don’t like the minimalist poetry that’s all over Instagram and Tumblr and is now being turned into books.

I’m talking about those 3-7 line pieces that usually talk about love, loss, and womanhood.

I’m not against the things they talk about. I’m not against poems posted on Tumblr or Instagram. I’m also not against short, minimalist, or experimental poetry. There are plenty of beautiful poems that fall under those categories.

For example:

What Beyoncé Won’t Say on a Shrink’s Couch (Morgan Parker)

what if I said I’m tired

and they heard wrong

said sing it


The opening line of Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth (Warsan Shire):

I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.

What I am against are the poems that are so easy to read that they become emotionally inaccessible. The ones so focused on “the message” and trying to be witty that they become vague abstractions or clichés. When these poems do include something concrete, the images are often recycled ones I see everywhere else on Instagram.

The taste of salt, honey, water, and mango have been shoved in my mouth so often that I don’t understand what they mean to the specific writer or what they add to the poem.

Perhaps my disdain for this kind of poetry stems from the fact that I study writing and am taught to be critical of what I read. But even before I started college, I knew something was wrong when I read these poems and felt nothing afterward. This is not the same reaction I have to the poems I read in class or even to the two above. Those poems punch me in the gut because, even though they’re saying something I know already, they say it in a unique way while still making me feel like wow, they hit that feeling right on the spot.

Neither of the poems I listed above is hard to read.

But both do require some amount of effort to think about. They’re not the most accessible things in our minds simply because they aren’t relying on what we’ve already heard.

Isn’t that what poetry is all about? Expressing the inexpressible through creative images and comparisons.

Isn’t poetry the expression of your entire working memory (initial thoughts, reactions, clichés, images) all combined and revised to make something original? The difference between bad and good poetry is the deliberation after all of your instinctive writing in order to get the point across more powerfully.

William Carlos Williams, known for his experimental and minimalist poetry, has a famous phrase that goes, “No ideas but in things.” That is also the first thing they teach in poetry classes: focus on the concrete to ground your abstract ideas. Don’t rely lean on clichés. The phrase, “sweet as honey” means nothing when it’s used too often. My poetry professor, Jericho Brown, often says in class that a poet’s goal is to write something so accurate that it becomes the cliché.

The lack of originality with these poets is further evidenced by the fact that we can’t even tell what’s plagiarism and what’s not anymore. The poems all say the same things in the same way, and in the same format (lower caps, no punctuation, title at the bottom like a signature, minimalist sketches to the side). When poetry is supposed to take your voice, the fact that everyone sounds the same is disheartening.

I can’t deny the fact that this type of poetry is so popular.

My guess is that the way we use social media is the reason for this. We go on Instagram to scroll quickly. When we’re forced to like, comment, read, and absorb so much on our newsfeed, we experience media overload. We don’t have much time or energy to read long captions or complex poetry. Instagram poets offer the perfect solution by giving us short, easy poetry that still makes us feel like we’re reading something deep.

My point here isn’t to shut writers down or say the only poetry that should be written is difficult poetry. My real issue is the fact that these minimalist poems are treated as top-notch while other talented writers like Rita Dove, Adrienne Rich, and Solmaz Sharif (who are all well-known in the writing world) are overlooked by the mainstream.

I’m happy people are at least reading and being impacted by words. It’s time, though, to move on to better writing.

We need to embrace poems that get at the crux of humanity and make your stomach churn.

Race Inequality

Will American Girl ever give us a Muslim doll – or will we continue being ignored?

American Girl is a company that makes exactly what the name implies: dolls representing American girls. Unlike other dolls, these ones have stories that represent some part of American history. Kit lives during the Great Depression, Kaya is a Native American girl growing up during the American revolution, Rebecca is a Russian Jewish immigrant living in 1910 America, Josefina is a Mexican girl in Santa Fe as it is still under Mexican rule, and Melody is an African American girl pursuing music during the civil rights era.

What’s most beautiful about these stories is that their characters aren’t solely struggling with identity or the politics of their time. They are girls with specific passions and hobbies, with moments of American history slipping into their lives. The darker parts of American history are there, too, such as European settlement and slavery.

However, there’s a group missing in this lineup of stories: Muslim Americans.

This gap demonstrates the common misconception that Muslims aren’t a part of American history, that we’ve only just recently become a part of American society (or even that we will never be fully American). In actuality, Muslims were some of the first people in this country, with 10-15% of slaves being Muslim. The late 19th and 20th centuries were marked by an influx of Arab Muslims. The members of the Nation of Islam played a big role in the civil rights movement.

So, yeah, Muslims have been here for a while now, and it’s odd American Girl hasn’t taken notice.

Two young Muslim girls – Salwa and Zahra – saw this gap after having read all the American Girl books and decided to confront the company about it. They decided to start a petition requesting the president of the American Girl company to create a Muslim doll.

This would be an economically strategic move for American Girl to take. The U.S. has about 8 million Muslims, and Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion. In 2015, American Muslims spent $1.9 trillion, a number expected to turn into $3 trillion by 2021. It would be advantageous to pay attention to these numbers. Some companies, like Nike for example, are beginning to notice their Muslim customers and are tailoring their products to appeal to the large group. This is the perfect opportunity for American Girl to do the same.

That being said, I also urge American Girl not to blindly follow the new socially-conscious trend companies are taking just to increase sales. I hope they really listen to the stories of American Muslims and research our history because this will impact girls beyond Salwa and Zahra. It will send a message to everyone who doesn’t see herself in the toy aisle too often while also reminding others that Muslims are here, too.

I remember growing up with my own American Girl doll, essentially the toy version of myself. She had brown hair and green eyes, played the flute, loved arts and crafts, and I’m pretty sure had the same shirt as me. I gave this doll a white American name though, didn’t dress her in hijab (even though I got her around the time I started wearing it), and honestly kept any signs of her being Muslim or foreign away from her because that wasn’t what normal dolls were like. Had I seen dolls, poly-pockets, Barbies, anything that really looked like me, this might have been different. I might have been more confident in expressing my faith and culture with my dolls at home or even outside in public. It might have also made the idea of American Muslims more normal to my non-Muslim peers.

To me, the most gripping line of the girls’ petition is this:

“As American girls today, we are fortunate to be successors to a long line of real American girls who were strong, smart, courageous, and even defiant. But lately, it hasn’t always been easy to be strong.”

If there ever was a perfect time to include Muslim girls in our toy stores, it’s now, when even Muslim adults find it hard to be strong. The American Girl legacy is one of passion, unadulterated self-expression, and most importantly, unity amongst all American girls. If the company really wants to stick to that legacy, they need to consider the group that’s been here forever and still struggles to be considered American even today.

Gender & Identity Life

Arabs in America have a messy history. It’s why filling out that ethnicity bubble still confuses everyone.

My story begins with me filling out my information on the Iowa exam, one of those end-of-year national tests for elementary school kids. I figured I’d breeze through it: name, address, school ID…a long pause…ethnicity?

Although Syria is in Asia, filling in that bubble didn’t seem fitting. So I would mark “white” when “other” wasn’t an option. I was confused about which category I fit in.

[bctt tweet=”I was confused about which category I fit in.” username=”wearethetempest”]

So were American judges in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Back then, American race meant either black or white. Before 1952, in order to be granted citizenship at the national level and the accompanying rights, you had to be white. There was nothing specifying “in-between” groups, so courts had to reconsider what “white” meant.

For example, East Asians petitioning for citizenship were deemed “yellow” and not “white,” meaning they were not allowed naturalization.

This simplistic view of race was challenged when, during this time, there was a large influx of Arabs, primarily from Ottoman Syria (modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan), into the United States.

The majority of these “Syrians” were Christians fleeing the Ottoman Empire. So when it came to the aggressive investigation of their whiteness, they appealed to the court with their Christianity (often equated with whiteness) and their homeland’s Biblical significance. This religious heritage separated them from initial Asian labeling, allowing them citizenship.

Thus began the history of white-ifying Arabs.

Citizenship and the legal classification of whiteness did not entirely shield Arabs from discrimination, however. The most significant instance of this was the lynching of Nola Romey, a Syrian-Floridian man, in 1929.

[bctt tweet=”Citizenship did not entirely shield Arabs from discrimination.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The instinctive response to such discrimination was to blend in and hide their “otherness.”

Though there were Arabs who chose to stand by other people of color, the majority went with that instinct. Assimilation for a group that already looked white wasn’t difficult. Strategies included “white-ifying” names (for example, changing “Ali” to “Al”), men shaving beards, women dying hair.

Some even insisted that they weren’t acting white, but were in fact white.

Fast-forward a little bit to the mid-1950s when America was using oil from a collective Arab region that did not yet have a name.

What was once seen as desert wasteland, became a place for the United States to exploit. In order to rationalize this exploitation, they racialized the whole region. Thus, the phrase “Middle East” was first used to apply to this vague and diverse array of land, coupled with stereotypes that gave the U.S. the upper hand.

Later, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was signed, which allowed all non-Europeans to immigrate to the U.S. and gave nonwhite immigrants the right to pursue citizenship. This new law gave rise to an influx of Arabs from countries with generally less white-passing populations, such as Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan. The more “foreign” you looked, the less capable people thought you were of assimilating.

This meant racializing any Arabs who didn’t fit white American norms while also labeling those who did fit those norms as white.

Selective racialization coupled with the assimilation strategies of Arabs created a dangerous cycle of otherizing Arabs who held onto their culture while promoting conformed whiteness. This makes it harder to fix the problem of having these stereotypes in the first place, and it also makes it more difficult for Arabs to unify and organize together.

[bctt tweet=”Selective racialization created a dangerous cycle.” username=”wearethetempest”]

While the stereotypes of Arabs as violent aggressors existed throughout this time, it wasn’t until 9/11 that they were fully developed into America’s enemy.

9/11 also enforced religious stereotypes.

Presently (as well as at the time), the majority of Arab Americans are Christian. However, Muslims are the fastest growing subset of Arab Americans, with 60 percent of the Arab immigrants since 1965 identifying as Muslim.

As mentioned before, Christian Arabs are seen as more capable of assimilating, and the common assumption of a Muslim-majority Arab American population is a frightening one to those who regard Muslims as enemies of the West.

The words Arab and Muslim became interchangeable in their minds. Islamic terrorists were the same as Arab ones, and if Islam was at odds with the West, so were all Arabs.

These new stereotypes create two reactions: assimilate, as had been previously done, or combat the idea of whiteness and stand in solidarity with other minorities. Younger generations are more likely to do the latter than older generations.

Which leads to a big conversation today: should the next U.S. census (2020) include a Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) option for race/ethnicity?

Currently, MENA citizens are expected to check the “white” category. There have been efforts pushing for the creation of a MENA option since the 1980s, and it could be a huge step forward to recognizing the separate struggles of Arab Americans and allowing for groups to support this demographic.

On the other hand, the efforts in supporting this motion have been going on for 40 years. The timing of its potential approval has caused skepticism among MENA Americans largely because it coincides with a time of increased U.S. surveillance of them. They are afraid this data could help make this surveillance easier.

So even if there is a MENA option, don’t expect all who fall into that category to check it.

As for myself?

My religious identity complicates this issue.

If I took off my hijab, I could likely pass for being white, or at least ethnically ambiguous.

This is the privilege of not being automatically stereotyped that several Arabs (particularly Levantine Arabs) have. I do wear hijab, though, so I am immediately labeled as “other,” and that other usually means both Muslim and Arab. I have clearly Desi hijab-wearing friends who’ve been labeled as Arab because of the assumption that all Muslims are Arab.

Vice versa, I have Arab friends who have been labeled as Muslim.

I recognize the privileges Arabs possess that other minorities do not, but a lot of that privilege is taken away when you are also visibly Muslim.

Taking this history of forced assimilation, a history of colonization in the MENA region, and my own personal battles with stereotypes and hatred, I don’t consider myself white.

[bctt tweet=”I don’t consider myself white.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Whether I would that on something like the U.S. census is a different question, and one I’m not sure I have an answer to. My impulse is to say yes for that little 3rd grader confused on how to classify herself and internalizing this classification, but I realize this might lead to greater harm.

I’d like to think that if a greater harm were to result, we could directly fight this misuse of information and stereotyping.

Yet, I know that is not always how the world works.

Gender & Identity Life

I never saw my best friend’s true identity until I decided to photograph her – then everything changed

Often we think that art’s power comes only in its final form when it reaches an audience. But I’m here to tell you that the creation of art in itself can be a powerful conversation.

I discovered this when photographing my friend, Amena.

She and I were in an art gallery when I saw a set of photographs by Annu Palakunnathu Matthew that struck me. They were images depicting Indian and Native American people with titles that played on these words and stereotypes, like “American Indian” and “Indian American.”

I immediately pointed the photos out to Amena, and she stood stunned at the beautiful captures. We immediately came to the same conclusion that this was her, but with the titles “American African” and “African American.”

That’s when I knew I had to photograph her.

Amena is my best friend of twelve years. We had seen each other at our highest, lowest, and weirdest moments. And a lot of our lowest moments stemmed from conflict of identity.

Hers specifically was that she is Sudanese, which means she is black and Arab.

As she describes it, “I always have to give the whole history of what Afro-Arab means. It’s hard to identify as Afro-Arab with both Arabs and black Americans.

When I exist as both and belong to both groups, I feel isolated from both groups. I can never comfortably label myself as one thing because either I’m uncomfortable with narrowing my complex identity or because they’re skeptical and feel like there’s more to the story that they are entitled to know.”

[bctt tweet=”When I exist as and belong to both groups, I feel isolated from both.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I had heard some of the comments she’d received.

A black girl told Amena that she wasn’t black because she didn’t “act black.” Yet she’d feel prominently black when Arabs would think it was cute to use the n word in front of her or when people would say that all black men look like her brother and father.

Amena had to wade through several questions, labels, and hurtful comments that I couldn’t fully grasp until we talked about them frankly, primarily over FaceTime conversations at 2 a.m.

Some of the most prominent moments of conversation came when producing these pictures.

Property of Talah Bakdash

I’d photographed Amena before, but she was always just a model for whatever assignment I had for my photography class. This was different.

This was a piece about her and dug directly into the hurt she had experienced the past couple of years and was finally overcoming. Because of this, I knew I couldn’t just be the artist in this situation. I had to let her take control of certain things. While I had an image of what I wanted to portray, it was her who had final say, because these were her stories, and it was my role to listen.

Property of Talah Bakdash

However, I’m not here to talk about her identity, how much I understand what it’s like to be in her position (I don’t), and the history of it all.

I’m here to talk about art. Specifically, the conversations held behind the making of this piece of art.

Property of Talah Bakdash

Photography takes meticulous effort and planning. We were inspired by Mathew’s use of stereotype to get her point across, and we thought we should utilize it, too. We had to talk through how a stereotypical black and stereotypical African person would dress and pose, what setting they would be in, etc. Throughout this process, I learned about the two cultures and Amena’s relationship to each.

One moment I remember clearly is sitting in the car, prepping to take the “American African” photos. She was removing her makeup while I was Googling images of Sudanese henna. She pulled a sharpie out of nowhere and immediately started drawing on her hand the henna design I found.

Then we ran into the field and she showed me typical Sudanese poses.

Property of Talah Bakdash

The actual photo shoot was a rush to catch the sunlight, so we didn’t think about the photos we were producing until after they had been produced. When we saw them, it was kind of shocking.

Neither of the two photographs we consulted looked like Amena. That was precisely the point.

[bctt tweet=”Neither of the two women photographed looked like Amena.” username=”wearethetempest”]

We worked hard to exaggerate the stereotypical images of each identity, that we lost sight as to how fabricated they were.

Yet, as we took the photos, I could see parts of Amena in each of the identities. None of the images perfectly matched the stereotype, since she was the subject, and she herself did not fully match either stereotype.

Property of Talah Bakdash

With the “African American” photos, she dressed stereotypically black, but she was wearing a hijab. We don’t think of hijabs when we think of black Americans, but black Muslims exist, and Amena is one of them. To further push that point, she chose to wear a shirt with Muhammad Ali, an icon to both blacks and Muslims.

With the “American African” photos, she was clearly not in Sudan, but the closest thing you get to Sudan in Kansas. We don’t associate America’s heartland with Africans, but again, Sudanese Americans exist, and Amena is one of them.

[bctt tweet=”I often forget the boxes Amena is put in because I simply I see her as Amena.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I often forget the boxes Amena is put in because I simply see her as Amena, my intelligent, obnoxious (sorry, Amena), genuine, and loud friend. This photo shoot demonstrated how real those boxes were in a way our FaceTime conversations couldn’t.

Property of Talah Bakdash

On her end, she agreed to the photo shoot because she has a hard time putting her identity into words, and this was the opportunity to visually express it with someone she trusted. She says that this was a reminder that she doesn’t fit perfectly into either mold and that she doesn’t have to, while still allowing herself to appreciate aspects of each.

I’m sure there are different reactions to these photographs based on what each viewer carries with them, and I encourage that.

But it’s important to remember that it isn’t just the conversations that result from finished art that is important, but also the ones that create art. Difficult ones. Ones inspired from other conversations. Ones that lead to images that might not even be that impressive, but may touch someone else in the world who needed to overhear it.

In creation, there is a conversation, which can help promote a mending of our humanity.

Gender & Identity Life

How do you preserve Syria when a lot of what’s left is rubble?

Google “Syria” or “Syrian,” and the first things that will pop up will be about the war or the refugee crisis.

The country is now a hot political debate, a depressing headline, a place known to most for its chaos. While there is certainly all that going on, and we should keep this destruction in mind, we should also remember what exactly is being destroyed.

The buildings were not always rubble, and the people not always desperate. The last time I was in Syria was eight years ago, a time when its culture and people were vibrant and thriving. That is how I choose to remember it.

The first thing I always remember is the men walking through the neighborhoods shouting with grand voices the prices of the vegetables on their carts. This is the sound I would wake up to in the afternoon after our late night arrival, and that my jet-lagged self absolutely despised. I remember the jasmine we would smell when walking anywhere and the fact that we could walk everywhere. I also remember mint lemonade, my grandparents’ grape vines, the mountain houses, the freshly baked bread, and old Damascus.

Oh yes, old Damascus and its fez-wearing coffee servers, the black-and-white striped archways, the colorful candy and glass for sale, and the Umayyad Mosque. I remember taking a microbus across parts of the country and seeing seas and castles. Doesn’t it sound magical?

How do I preserve that magic now? How do I preserve these beautiful memories? I want to pass them down to my little brothers who were too young at the time to remember all this, and to the public who knows nothing of Syria but war.

The most vivid memories Syrians have of their country are usually food-related. My mother and her friends exchange recipes, and these recipes are a big conversation at gatherings. It is over a zucchini dish called sheikh el mahshi that my father tells us stories from my grandparents’ kitchen in Damascus and that my mother complains about how the produce there was better and the zucchini came already prepped to stuff. My brothers’ memories of Syria likely lie in their taste buds. Now, as I move into an apartment and have my own kitchen, my mother is teaching me how to cook okra and bake cheese pastries.

Syria has a rich history of writing. Arabic is such a complex language, and just speaking the dialect at home is an act of preservation in itself. I make it a point as I study poetry in my classes to also learn about Arabic poetry and incorporate it into my own writing. Some of the most prominent lines of Arab literature are found in the songs of icons like Fairouz and Oum Kalthoum. Listening to them while I study, reading the works of Nizar Qabbani, and incorporating Arabic into my writing is my way of making sure this history doesn’t dim in me or even the people who read my writing. Simply mentioning the men shouting the prices of vegetables on the street, to me, is a personal act of defiance.

Even now in Aleppo that history of poetry stays strong, with graffiti reading “We’re returning, oh love,” the title of a well-known Fairouz song.

Talking to my Syrian friends about what we remember, telling stories of my own adventures with my cousins, hearing my dad go on about how he walked to school (doesn’t every dad have that story?), or my grandmother on how she did laundry back in the day – these stories may be repeats, but that ingrains them further and keeps them forever present. The most important thing is to keep listening and telling.

This is a kind of magic stronger than any bombing.

Books Pop Culture

Pride & Prejudice taught me more about marriage than the Arab aunties I know

2017 is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and people are celebrating her life, work, and legacy.

After 200+ years, you’d think her stories are outdated and irrelevant to those not coming from a Western background. Why are we still celebrating her today and how exactly has she come to be regarded as a classic? How is it that her stories are not thought of as shallow chick flicks?

I’ve heard these sentiments a lot, and I’m here to tell you that I, a 21st century Arab-American, can identify with her work so much, it’s a little frightening.

First of all, remove the images of the Jane Austen movie adaptations you have in your mind because, though they are good, they do not do her books justice. She packs romance, humor, drama, introspection, wit, and social criticism all into one vivid and entertaining story.

To dismiss her work as “just another romance for girls” is a problem, when there is so much to learn about people and society from her.

Anyway, Shakespeare wrote dramatic romances, and we don’t dismiss his work as lesser and more shallow.

My own journey in discovering Austen was in high school when I read Pride and Prejudice. Just the first line struck me: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

This sentence is followed by a scene with a marriage-obsessed mother freaking out about the upper-end Mr. Bingley coming into town with her aloof husband exasperated by her.

But come on. It’s the 21st century. We would never see a scene like this happening today.


Bring the modern Mr. Bingley equivalent (handsome, rich, down-to-earth doctor) to either an Arab gathering or a small city in middle America, and you’ll see a very similar scene unfold before you.

We might think of ourselves today as living in a more advanced era where we are independent individuals who may or may not find love, but will worry about it once it happens. Though that is true for several people, the reality is that the obsession with marriage is still very prominent culturally today.

I find this obsession at Arab gatherings, where phrases anticipating my marriage are thrown around as compliments. I also find it in the larger American community, present on Pinterest boards and TLC shows obsessed with the perfect dress and party for marrying the perfect person.

Austen must have seen the timelessness of the matter, because how else is the humor she brings to it so relevant, regardless of time and place? The mother character freaking out about her daughters marrying the high-standing man and selling them off? How on point is that to the realities of so many women today?

Reading Pride and Prejudice my senior year of high school prepared me for all the marriage talk I heard going into college.

Austen’s strength lies not in the relevance of the subject matter, but in the complexity of the characters and their interactions with one another. Specifically, the way she addresses social etiquette and judgment is impactful to young adults fitting themselves into the adult world, regardless of gender.

To be more specific, it was the contrast between Wickham and Darcy that taught me about what fitting into society meant. When you come from cultures with heightened social sensitivity and extra kindness, regardless of how you really feel, it’s easy to dismiss the social etiquette as fake and wrong.

Both Arab and Midwestern American have that trend going for them, and I was completely against it.

Austen quickly flipped that.

When I first read Pride and Prejudice, I viewed this etiquette as what Darcy calls with disgust Wickham’s “happy manners.” Wickham was a horrible person who knew how to navigate social settings and people loved him, as opposed to the more reserved and blunt Darcy who people didn’t like. I took that as a sign of having to change the system and forget social rules, but it was the end of the novel that changed my way of thinking. When Elizabeth visits with her aunt and uncle, Darcy makes an effort to be kinder beyond his initial instinct and be more sociable while still maintaining genuineness. Elizabeth appreciates that effort and begins to fall for him.

This scene taught me that perhaps it is not fake to put in this effort into socializing or monitoring your bluntness; perhaps that is what leads to trust. First impressions matter, as evidenced by Elizabeth’s initial disgust with Darcy. Though we shouldn’t obsess over what people think about us, maintaining that more collectivist notion of caring about social rules might not be much of a bad thing.

But most importantly out of all this, I learned that even the most sensible people can be prone to judging. Elizabeth criticizes Darcy for being judgmental when she herself is judging Darcy and Wickham on their outward characters. She even judges her best friend Charlotte for getting married.

While she thinks she is being completely rational, she loses sight of herself and has to put her own prejudices in check.

In a world where judgment is still very prominent, this is an important takeaway.

There are still several more takeaways, but her talk of marriage culture, social politeness, and judgment are what really grabbed me. They’re ever present in guiding me into the world of adulthood where, guess what, marriage, social politeness, and judgment are all very present – even in the 21st century, even in the Middle East.

While Austen’s books don’t fit into the typical “coming of age” genre, I think her stories speak a lot towards the young person’s struggle of dealing with people – wild sisters, best friends, potential spouses, weird cousins…you name it.

As we remember her this year, let’s remember her legacy as far beyond just good love stories.