Kids from Immigrant Families | Crooked Media
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March 23, 2023
Dare We Say
Kids from Immigrant Families

In This Episode

All in the family, عائلة, y familia! Josie, Alycia, and Yasmine gather to discuss their different cultures: Josie and Yasmine as Arab women, and Alycia as an Afro-Latina. The girls bond over feeling at home with their food, learning from one another, and wanting to take down the monster of white supremacy with grace and patience.

Show Notes

Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU)



Yasmine Hamady: Hello hello hello hello hello. I’m Yasmine.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Hi, I’m Alycia Pascual-Peña. 

Josie Totah: I am Josie and we’re in Puerto Rico. Well, half of us are in Puerto Rico. 

Yasmine Hamady: Whoa, wait, tell us why? 

Josie Totah: Well, I think we said why in our last installment, but we’re visiting Alycia at work, and we’re so happy to be here. I’m staring out into the beautiful Puerto Rican island. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah, we’re in Puerto Rico. Uh. She was so kind enough to come visit me um– 

Josie Totah: For her birthday. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yep. I I’m another year older, which feels very odd to say. 

Josie Totah: She’s 24. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: Veinte y cuatro? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Good job. How are you Yazzie boo we miss you. 

Yasmine Hamady: Ugh. March 19th, um a star was born, and it’s not Lady Gaga in the Bradley Cooper film. It was Alycia Pascual-Peña. Thank you very much. So if you didn’t wish her a happy birthday, then um uh you you’re ugly. And so here’s the thing– 

Josie Totah: How was Joshua Tree? 

Yasmine Hamady: I really, really wish I was with you guys. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I wish you were with us too. 

Yasmine Hamady: Joshua Tree was beautiful. I went for my friend’s birthday. I was with all my girls. It was nice. It was fun. I tried shrooms for the first time, and I don’t know if it’s for me. 

Josie Totah: Mmmm. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Why? Do tell. 

Josie Totah: Why do you say that? 

Yasmine Hamady: I was just like I. I. Well, first of all, I was like, I need to be on the floor. I don’t want to be on a couch. I was on the floor with between like Lily and Talia um was between my two uh friends. And I was just like, I, I don’t know why. Maybe I didn’t take enough. Maybe it’s because I’m on antidepressants so inhibits how effective it actually works on me. Um. But it was just. It was just like, fine, you know, weed is more effective for me. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Did you see stuff that always fascinates me when–

Yasmine Hamady: I don’t think I took enough. So I think I want to try more um in a different environment I feel like with less people because it was like ten girls and, you know, I don’t know if it was the best idea to do it with like a lot of people for my first time. So probably best to do it again. So overall–. 

Josie Totah: Overall? 

Yasmine Hamady: Joshua Tree, beautiful. Overall girls trip, stunning. Overall shrooms, not enough. Back to you. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Wow that was a wonderful report of your week. We’re going to have to hear about your second time– 

Yasmine Hamady: Thank you. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –on shrooms and how that goes. 

Josie Totah: My week was really good. My weekend was good. I had my dad’s 60th birthday, which was the rowdiest party I’ve been to since like a fraternity gala. It we had a DJ that was playing Reggaeton and um Bad Bunny and uh the song Shots um that my mom had hired. And just like all 70, 60 to 50 year old Arabs, just like, marching around and raging, which was iconic. My dad may or may not have participated in a bit of a striptease when a certain song came on. It was incredible. We had a food truck in our driveway and we missed you both dearly. My mom, it was like an open bar. My mom hired a bartender and she had like this, like assistant running around Shout out Katie. She’s an icon. Um. So Chrissy really went off. 

Yasmine Hamady: Christie did go off. 

Josie Totah: And then weirdly, we went uh to a bar that night, and the theme of the bar was an Iranian themed bar. So we just had Middle Eastern themes throughout the whole night. And then it was Iranian music. So we had gone from listening to more Arab music to more Arab music, it was a very Middle Eastern night. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: So speaking of your dad’s beautiful turnt Middle Eastern party and Yas, you being in tune with nature and your girls trip this week, me being in Puerto Rico, it led us to talk about who we are and like where we come from today. And I’m super excited to talk about um our own ethnicities and our own cultural backgrounds because I think that even though we come from different places, we experience um a lot of the same things when it comes to like feeling invalidated in our womanhood or not always being seen in America um for the nuances of our culture. I think one of the many ways that our friendship has grown like between us three sisters is learning so much about each other’s families and learning words in each other’s languages. Um. I have been so grateful to wake up to Josie and um Yas telling me Yallah Habibty, and knowing your beautiful Babas and stuff like that. So today I’m excited for us during Women’s History Month. No better time than to talk about who we are and where we come from. Yeah. For people that don’t know. Where are you guys from? Where are your parents from? How did we end up in America? 

Josie Totah: Yeah, so I am. I’m born in America, obviously. Not obviously. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Not obviously. 

Josie Totah: Not obviously, I guess that’s not obvious. Well I feel like I would, I would make it my brand if I wasn’t born in America, that I wasn’t born here. Um. But my parents are both of Middle Eastern descent. My mom is Lebanese, my dad is Palestinian, and my grandparents had their first son in Ramallah, in Palestine, and then they moved to Chicago. 

Yasmine Hamady: So my family came to Flint, Michigan. Um. My dad came on a boat at 12 years old from Lebanon to Michigan because of the war that broke out in Lebanon. Um. So, yeah, my dad is an immigrant. Um. All my all my family is still in Lebanon on my dad’s side. Um. They are from Beirut, but they’re also from the mountains [?]. And then my mom’s side, my mom was born in oh God, she was born in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. And there’s no shade to that. But it’s just it’s it’d be awesome if my mom was also born in Lebanon, but she wasn’t. But her dad was born in Lebanon. So anyways, so my mom’s mom, was born in Massachusetts too. So she was uh first gen from her dad and she’s half Italian and half Lebanese. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I’m from New York, originally in the Bronx, but that is where my family immigrated to um from Dominican Republic as far back as I can look like so many people ask like, oh, like, what are you mixed with? One, very problematic question. Please stop asking people that you’ve just met what they’re mixed with. Let’s get that on record. But people ask me like, oh, like, what are you mixed with? And I am just Dominican. I’m just Dominican. Very proudly of it. Um. But something that I definitely want to get into is explaining to people that I’m Dominican. It becomes very evident very quickly to me that people don’t understand the difference between race, ethnicity and culture. 

Josie Totah: And nationality. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Um and nationality. Like people don’t understand that those are distinctly different things. Like people are always like, Oh, but if you’re Dominican, are you Black? And I’m like, yes. Because my race is a Black woman and I’m very proudly Afro-Latina, but my ethnicity is just Dominican and my nationality is American. Um my dad was born in Dominican Republic. I would say more than half of my family was born in Dominican Republic. So I’m first generation American on my dad’s side and then second on my mom’s. Um. None of my grandparents speak English, and I always felt very in tune with our culture and I wanted to ask why do we feel like it was important to talk about this today? 

Yasmine Hamady: We have talked so much about this, us three how in this space there is not enough conversation about Afro-Latinos, specifically Dominican women, and there is not enough conversations about Arab women, specifically Palestinian and specifically Lebanese as well. And I feel like we do have the platform to talk about this, and I feel like we do need to take up space because we are here and we’re not going anywhere. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I think in addition to it being Women’s History Month and I think it’s important that we uplift where we’re from and our family ideals, I also think it’s a conversation that needs to be had is, this is really beautiful that we’re having more conversations about diversity and representation. But I think to be honest about progress is the fact that we still have so much work to do. I am currently still going places– 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –in the United States where someone asks me my ethnicity or how I identify, and I say I’m an Afro-Latina and in 2023 I’m still being told by people, which is okay, ignorance is the lack of knowledge, right? Or the lack of context. But I still have people in 2023 being like, I’ve never heard someone say that they were an Afro-Latina. And as much as I think that we are moving in a beautiful direction of seeing ourselves more, that still tells me like there’s still so much work to be done. I still need to be uplifting conversations and progress and growth and evolving means the continuous work. So just because we’ve had beautiful moments and we have amazing people like Ariana Debose and Gina Torres, and people and I’m seeing from my own community, because I want you guys to have space to too. We still need to be educating people, you know, with with the access and platforms that we have. 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And so I thought– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: That’s why we need to be having this conversation today. And it made me really excited because I know that I’ve learned so much from friendship with you guys about the Middle East and there’s still so much for me to learn. Um. And I still think that the media and just the general public doesn’t know enough about the nuances about where we each come from. So that’s why I think this conversation is really important and I’m excited about it. 

Josie Totah: You were the first person that I’ve ever been close or met I guess that I in my memory is a person who said that they were Afro-Latina. And I think that– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah same here. 

Josie Totah: I think that obviously there’s a smaller community of like Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in L.A., although we’ve seemed to find them. I feel like every one–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: We’ve found ever single one. 

Josie Totah: –of our friends is Dominican or Puerto Rican– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah we have. 

Josie Totah: –and I love it. It makes me so happy. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Josie Totah: Um and seeing you and your community and your culture, like, makes me so happy. And I loved when we celebrated Dominican Independence Day. And just like seeing you listening to your music with your people gave me so much warmth. Because I feel like in America, especially in predominantly white spaces, which all of us have navigated through, it can be hard to find community in that way. But because you’re one of the first people that I’ve, you know, gotten to know really, really well about not just you being Afro-Latina, but the specifics of the history of your culture and how you guys– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. Yes.

Josie Totah: –got to this country. And I was wondering if you’d be comfortable sharing with us the the background on that. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Absolutely. Thank you for asking Josie. And you know, what’s crazy is a lot of my best friends have told me that I was one of the very first or if not the first person that they had ever met that identified as Afro-Latina. Um. And I’m so grateful to be a part of a community that is always willing to learn and so transparent. But to answer your question, the reality of it is, is Afro-Latinidad has always existed. There are Black people throughout Latin America. We’re actually such a large portion of the population. But the reality of why a lot of people have never heard the term or don’t identify that way is because of anti-Blackness being so prominent within Latin America. 

Josie Totah: Mmm. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: So, for example– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yep. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –growing up, I always knew I was Dominican, but no one in my family, in my family identified as Afro-Latina, even though we were Black people who spoke Spanish. So I have spoken about it before. But as much as I loved my culture and I’m so proudly Dominican, I really had to learn what being like Black in America was by myself. Because I think that Afro-Latinidad to this day is a community that’s invalidated. We are gaslit about the racism that we face um because there’s something that a lot of Latinos– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –do and I say this with love, because I know that we’re capable of being better, is why I speak this way. But a lot of Latinos kind of have this narrative of, oh, because I’m a person of color or because I faced oppression, I can’t be racist, which is far from true. There is a difference between white and Black Latinos. There’s a difference in privileges. For example, if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of it all, I’m a Black woman, but I don’t face the adversity of a dark skinned Black woman with 4C hair. So there are times that I need to sit and listen and grow from those experiences when I’m talking to my other Black sisters and brothers. Um. And a very quick history lesson on my uh country specifically is Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean and our original Indigenous people were called Taínos the same way there were like Mayans and Aztecs in Mexico. Us it was Taínos. And then during the transatlantic slave trade, something that a lot of people don’t know is 70 to 80% of Africans who were enslaved because of the transatlantic slave trade were sent to the Caribbean, and that was done by Europeans, including Spaniards. So for my country specifically, Spain Spaniard conquistadors. So um colonizers brought slaves to work on the island and then by rape and by the continuous like intersectionalities is why you have a country of people that are Black and have Indigenous roots with Taínos and speak Spanish because of colonization. Um. So yeah, it always boggles my mind. But I understand why so many Latinos get so uncomfortable with the conversation of race because it’s um internalized racism and self-hatred, and we still have to work on not pandering to like white supremacy, you know, and kind of decolonizing our minds. 

Josie Totah: Yeah, I think that is very important to mention, too, because I think we even often navigate circles where we meet people and it’s one or the other with some people. Obviously this isn’t a conversation that I’m a part of because I am not Black, nor am I Afro-Latina. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah, but you’ve witnessed– 

Josie Totah: But I’ve witnessed knowing from you, it’s like people who are Black presenting who don’t want to be Black or don’t say that they’re Black. Um. And then the other side of that, who are people who are not Black presenting but are Dominican. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Mm hmm. 

Josie Totah: And are and are like I can say the N word. I can say this because– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: Because I am. Do you know what I mean? 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Absolutely. Because once again, there’s a difference. As a Dominican person, all of us have African ancestry. We have Spaniard ancestry, and we have Indigenous ancestry. But it does not mean that you are Black, you know what I mean? For example, my mom and I are 100% the exact same culture. Both my mom and dad are from the exact same island, but they are different complexions. And that’s why like, you know, I think our education system fails us in certain ways because they put us in certain rigid boxes and lack the intersectionality of going, hey, this may be your culture, but not your race. For example, there are biracial people that their Blackness should never be negated. If you are biracial and Black and white, you should be proud of your Blackness. But there’s a difference between navigating the world as a Black person and having ancestry that is Black. 

Josie Totah: And a lot of that has to do with how you’re perceived. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Exactly. 

Josie Totah: Because race is a construct. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Race is a social construct. 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: With valid real world repercussions. 

Josie Totah: Which I think is important to mention too, because when we say if you’re if you’re Black, if you’re not Black, when we’re referring to race, we’re referring to the color of your skin. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: The social construct. And that’s why featurism and textureism is a thing. And that’s why like I’ve been very grateful to now be in spaces and learn from activists that I love and authors that I love. Like when I talk about Blackness, I’m talking about the African diaspora. That is why when I talk about empowerment um and collective, it’s in regards to like the African diaspora um and understanding, like there are nuances of texturism and featurism, and that even though we are one Black family that should be united, there are differences in our experiences. And unfortunately, I think my country really still does struggle with listening and validating the racism  um that Black Latinos are experiencing. Because even though we’re all Latinos, there’s a difference between how we’re perceived and the racism that we still deal with in our country. And I think Afro-Latinos as a whole. It’s still very much a battle to even, like feel seen or feel validated. Because I feel like, Josie, you’ve seen it happen to me. Yas you’ve seen it happen to me, where people want me to prove my Latinness to them. Or my latinidad. Um. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And– 

Josie Totah: And they act shocked and appalled. 

Yasmine Hamady: I feel– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: When they hear you speak Spanish. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And they’re like, when did you learn Spanish? 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. And I–

Josie Totah: And you’re like it’s actually my first language. 

Yasmine Hamady: I think it also goes both ways where you have to, what I’ve witnessed is you have to– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: –prove you’re Latinidad, and you have to also, I’ve noticed prove your Blackness sometimes also in different spaces. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: In what ways? 

Yasmine Hamady: Spaces. I’ve noticed I felt like, for example, on Saved by the Bell, I’ve like, I’ve seen it like on different comments and stuff, like people within different communities saying– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Well, you’re one thing or the other when you didn’t have to, did that makes sense? Not in physical things, but how people perceive you. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Well, I do feel like people throughout my life have been like, okay, so are you Latino or are you Black? And I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah I understand what you’re trying to say.

Yasmine Hamady: That’s what I’m trying to say. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Um. And it’s like, no, that’s the beauty of an intersectionality. I’m proudly both. I’m not one percentage of one or one percentage of the other, and that makes people uncomfortable because specifically in America, I think it’s done with throughout the world. There is a social hierarchy where you you have to pick one. And it’s like, I’ve refused to do that my whole life and I’m not going to make you feel more comfortable in your whiteness by diluting one part of myself, you know? But what are things that you guys think that you struggled with– 

Yasmine Hamady: A hundred percent. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Um. Sorry do you want to add something before I ask a question Jos er Yas? 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. I think the three things that that really stuck with me with what you said is the first thing is the miseducation, because I feel like, you know, we don’t in school, at least for me, we had one day talking about the transatlantic slave trade and then that was it. And how it doesn’t affect any of the Caribbean countries. It just goes straight to the southern part of the United States. Second is the inner racism within people of color as well, and then the blatant racism within people of color as well. Because a lot of times with Arabs too, they are so racist towards other types of people. And they say that we can do that, though, because we’re also people of color and we’re also marginalized. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: So it’s okay to be awful to other people too. 

Josie Totah: I think something we’ve learned is that everybody is racist. No, but it’s just the truth. Every culture– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: No. No no no. [?] everybody’s racist what I think–

Josie Totah: Not everybody is racist but every– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I think what you’re trying to say is [?]– 

Josie Totah: –culture has embedded tendencies and does racist shit. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. Well, I think– 

Josie Totah: To another culture. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I think that there’s ignorance across the world and I think that the infrastructures that we all live under are rooted in white supremacy. Let’s call it what it is. White supremacy. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And as people of color, I think sometimes– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –to alleviate the [?] pressure that we we harbor within ourselves, we want to oppress someone else. You know what I mean? Or point fingers somewhere else. And that really hurts me. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Because it’s a lack of self-love. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: It’s a lack of being able to celebrate the uniqueness of where you come from. And also we play this oppression Olympics sometimes. You know what I mean? It’s like, oh, well, I’ve struggled. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes, yes, yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: It’s like yes. Like– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: An Asian person, Indigenous person, Middle Eastern person. We’re all struggling, but it doesn’t mean that we struggle in the same way. So we should want to support one another and liberate one another, while also listening to the differences that we’re experiencing day to day. You know what I mean? Um. But but I found– 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –myself so many times– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes Alycia. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –being like. Like you just you trying to be white so bad or like, you really, like, are trying to prove something that you’re not. You know what I mean? And I think that I’ve been able to find solace and peace in knowing that, like, I’m not supposed to fit in in spaces. You know what I mean? Like, all of us are navigating what colonization internally looks like for ourselves. But um it makes me want to ask you guys, as Middle Eastern women living in America, how we feel validated, what do you feel like are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to face in regards to, like explaining your culture or celebrating your culture with other people? 

Josie Totah: I have always known that I am Arab and that I was an Arab person because my family is so proud and prideful of our culture and we’ve always had that community. In San Francisco, we had this thing called the Ramallah Club, where every because so many Arabs go to San Francisco and the Bay. The Bay Area is where the Arabs are at. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah the Bay area. 

Josie Totah: And so the Ramallah Club is everybody who– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –is literally from Ramallah, the village that my family is from in Palestine goes to this club and once a year they would host a gala. It’s hundreds of people and this is why whenever I’m somewhere, I’m like, oh, that’s my cousin. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: Because they’re probably from Ramallah. And there’s only like a few thousand– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Josie Totah: –people from this one village. And so I met people ever since I was so young that were from, you know, from Palestine, from Ramallah, but in America. So it was very weird because I had this sort of like Americanized upbringing where it was very suburban living and my brother was on the football team. But like at the same time, we had a very distinct sense of where we came from and that was always at the forefront. And instead of, you know, dropping off cupcakes or muffins when someone moves to the neighborhood. My mom would bring hummus and like everyone knew about Christine’s hummus. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes! Yes.

Josie Totah: And my cousins on both sides were really, really close to us, like one side of our family, the Lebanese side. Um we shared a backyard with them and they lived behind us. And then my other cousins who are like Natalia and–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –Christian, who you’ve met. Um. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: They would come every single weekend. We’d either go to San Francisco and see them or they would come for every single holiday. And it was always a part of our community and I was always proud of that. And it wasn’t until I got older that I started to hear certain things and realized that maybe certain parts of my culture weren’t something to be necessarily proud of. And I think when my sister started high school. She went to this like very upper echelon white high school, which was actually what the school in Lady Bird was based on. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Oh, wow. 

Josie Totah: St. Francis High School in Sacramento. And Greta Gerwig went there. 

Yasmine Hamady: Okay Greta Gerwig. 

Josie Totah: And so did my mom. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Love her. 

Josie Totah: And so did my sister. And that’s when my mom started saying things like, oh, your sister is hanging out with like a lot of white people. Like she’s she’s trying to like fit in and she she wants to fit in that way. And I never thought of us having to fit in until then. And then when I moved to L.A. at ten years old, I remember distinctly my mom telling me and my dad telling me, when you walk into the audition, they ask you, oh what’s your ethnicity? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And my parents always said, never tell them you’re Palestinian. Because of how controversial it is to be Palestinian. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: Unfortunately– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And her not wanting you– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –to be negatively perceived. 

Josie Totah: And how political it is. Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Ugh. 

Josie Totah: And to be so I I always told people I’m Italian. I would walk into rooms. I know. They’d say what is your ethnicity and I would say I’m Italian. And so I didn’t start telling people I was Palestinian until I was like until I was like 16, 17 years old, maybe. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: Maybe even 17 years old. 18. Like, I didn’t even post about– 

Yasmine Hamady: Wow. 

Josie Totah: You know, my own country until I was older. And I remember my cousins and my aunt, my Auntie Reem, who I love so much, she would always ask me about it or tell me, you know, why don’t you ever tell people why why aren’t you? And I think because I was afraid of my own identity being controversial, which is funny because my entire identity is, I guess, controversial and political in every aspect of the intersectionality that is Josie. Um. But I kind of had to like find that within my own. And I kind of had more compassion for my sister of why we would go out to places or we would go get food. And my sister would be like excited to not have our food because she was probably– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –being bullied for it. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I was just going to say, I think with maturity too, like I’ve had to learn just to give people immense amount of grace. Like a lot of us are just trying to survive like– 

Yasmine Hamady: You have to. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Even now like when– 

Yasmine Hamady: You have to. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –I meet someone, obviously not when someone’s being like blatantly racist and awful. But when I meet a person of color who is uncomfortable in their own culture, ethnicity, I understand that people have made you to feel that way. So hopefully I can make you feel more comfortable in your skin and where you come from, because it isn’t easy navigating these white spaces and like, you know, you– 

Yasmine Hamady: No. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –want to pander to white people to be accepted, to be elevated, like we are working under these oppressive infrastructures where we want to succeed. And, you know, like I engaged in respectability politics in high school and in college, and I am thankful for people in my life like you guys and communities that have given me the liberty and become a lot more radical and speak the way we do. 

Yasmine Hamady: And I also feel like as to alienate them even more so than they– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Absolutely. 

Yasmine Hamady: –does more of a disservice. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Absolutely. 

Yasmine Hamady: Than we really think it does. Because like, I think well, first of all, Josie, thank you for sharing all of that, because I feel like and even though like I know I don’t I didn’t know some of the stories about your sister, but like, I know so much of this about you, but also you sharing this is so brave as well, because um it’s very it takes a lot of courage to talk about a culture, our culture that is not very common. Because there’s not a lot of Dominicans in this world, there’s not a lot of Palestinians, there’s not a lot of Lebanese. We have also very small countries. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Small but powerful baby. There’s something that you said, Yas, that to isolate someone who is navigating what their culture looks like for them isn’t helpful. Like, I think it’s important to love someone through that process. And there’s an African proverb that I love that says– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –the child that is ostracized from the tribe will burn it down. 

Josie Totah: Mmm. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And I I I– 

Yasmine Hamady: Oh! Wow yeah.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I adore that African proverb because I feel like it’s– 

Josie Totah: I love that. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –like for us as people from different cultures growing up in America and being minorities, I think that we have a distinct experience of trying to understand who we are in the United States and understanding the sacrifices that our family made for us, but keeping our culture alive. And there is like this duality that we have to learn um how to deal with. And I think it’s important to understand like we’re not a monolith. We experience our cultures differently. Um. Like to come from immigrant parents is such a blessing, but it is something you have to, like, grow through. And Yas, how do you feel like you did that growing up? 

Yasmine Hamady: I feel like whenever I would say to people like, Oh, I’m Lebanese, they’re like you’re a lesbian? I’m like– 

Josie Totah: Little did they know. 

Yasmine Hamady: No I said Lebanese.

Josie Totah: Little did you know. 

Yasmine Hamady: Um. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Oh tea.

Yasmine Hamady: [laugh] That I’m bisexual, too. Um. Yeah, I it’s it’s, being a Lebanese woman is the proudest thing about me. It’s it’s it’s my pride and my joy. It’s everything. It’s, you know, growing up, I always knew I was different because, a.) Believe it or not, I have very curly hair. But over the years of doing the keratin treatment and straightening it constantly, um it is now like this. But if I don’t do the keratin treatment, it will get curly again. But I wanted to be white so badly. I straightened it every single day. I wanted to be white so badly that I would introduce myself as Yasmine or Yasmine for years. Up until college, I would be like, my name is Yasmine. Could you imagine that, me saying that? And Yasmine Hamady. [said with one Americanized pronuncation] when my name is Yasmine Hamady. [said with an Arabic pronunciation] Yasmine Diyala Hamady. And now when people say my name wrong, I’m like, actually, it’s it’s Yasmine. And I think for so long, because of white supremacy, we don’t want to take up the space to correct people for their mistakes. And it’s not making them feel like a fool or not making them feel um like they did something wrong. But this is my name, can you please say it correctly? You say the name Sara correctly. You say the name Lindsay correctly. There’s no problem where you can say Yasmine. And so that’s my thing with all of this. And then also, like my dad and my mom, you know, they we all spoke Arabic growing up, you know, [speaking words in Arabic] uh everyone spoke Arabic. Having a group of Arabs specifically for me, the Lebanese community has been a pillar of who I am, and that specifically going to Lebanon in the summer, I was fortunate enough to go every summer. You know, there’s pride holding that Lebanese flag, and we were colonized by the French years ago, and no one really knows that because we don’t talk about the Middle East in our school. We don’t talk about the Middle East whatsoever– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: –unless it’s about war. You know, um and I think specifically after 9/11, you know, the world of how we view Arabs have completely changed. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: After that. Um. And I think and like I there’s been spaces it’s been harder to navigate, like traveling is harder to navigate. You know, um also introducing my parents to people. I was always nervous to introduce my family to people growing up because they were always loud. Arabs are loud, Arabs are rowdy. And like, my mom’s name is Amal, my dad’s name is Mahmoud Danny. Like, you know what I mean? And there was for so long, I was like, they’re just going to be loud. They’re not going to want to. They never took us to McDonald’s growing up. They never took us to fast food chains. We just make some [?] or lebani with hebes, which is bread and the type of yogurt. With [?]. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: So good. 

Yasmine Hamady: –which is cucumber on it, and then eat it. The food, the culture, the music. There’s nowhere I feel more home than like being in Lebanon or like, even like going to Josie’s house to be with her parents because my parents are in the bay. But like when her parents are here, like having your mom put out the fresh veggies and fruits out with a little bit of bread, you know, it’s little things like that that reminds me of home so much. And then also seeing at your dad’s birthday, everyone doing the Dabke and the Dabke is a type of Middle Eastern dance and every country does it a little bit differently. Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, everyone does it a little differently where everyone holds hands and they go around in circles or around in a square and they just dance and I we could do a tutorial sometime, to do it. But I think for so long I wanted to be white, and for so long I hated the fact that my name was Yasmine. You know, I used to want to make my name Lorraine [laughter] after Hilary Duff in Cheaper by the Dozen. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I didn’t know. 

Josie Totah: Not Lorraine!

Yasmine Hamady: Out of all the fucking names. Why not– 

Josie Totah: Lorraine is such an ugly name. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. No one knows that. I wanted to name my name– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: You have such a beautiful name. 

Yasmine Hamady: –Lorraine. I remember when I was like ten I was like mom I hate my name. Call me Lorraine. 

Josie Totah: I would have just–

Yasmine Hamady: And she was like why? And I go, because I wanted to color my hair blond. I wanted blue eyes. I would start cutting my hair like shaving my hair, but like, my mom didn’t let me shave it, is this with you guys, too? Did your parents not want you to shave your hair– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: My– 

Yasmine Hamady: They always said wax it. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Okay. 

Yasmine Hamady: Because it’s going to grow back darker.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: This is something that I still don’t do to this day. And I’m so grown. My mom told me to never shave above my knee, so I shave above my knee when I tell you maybe two times a year. 

Josie Totah: But she doesn’t have hair above her knee. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I do. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: [?] 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Pero my mom just told me that. But speaking of hair, I was–

Yasmine Hamady: You’re lucky. 

Josie Totah: That’s one big insecurity that I feel like I have, because as Arabs, we have so much hair. And thank God that we do because the hair on our head. But, no, because all the hair on our head is very thick and and luscious and amazing. And I love my hair, even though my hair can be a bit of a bitch to style sometimes because it’s so thick, and I think people are surprised all the time about how big my hair is. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: You have such beautiful thick hair. I love it. 

Josie Totah: But I um I, I yeah I feel that all the time. Like there’s hair on my body. And and that’s why it makes me feel so happy to see other Arab women and other Arab people and like my own sister, like, who also, like, have hair on their arms and like, thankfully, I don’t have, my mom has– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes 

Josie Totah: –like grew up getting her like upper lip waxed and things like that that I don’t have to do, thank God. But like, that’s very big in in our in our community is having so much hair. And that was something that I was always so embarrassed about and I feel like I’ve had to learn to ow– I even said it to you today. I was like, I’m so embarrassed. But like, I have to own/learn to like rock it and own it. And I’m grateful for it because I have my brows. [music break]. 


Alycia Pascual-Peña: What are things that as a kid specifically in regards to like your culture? What are stereotypes from our cultures or misconceptions that like we had to like overcome or that would like really frustrate us. I have oof a laundry list as a Latina, specifically, being Afro-Latina just number one. People being like, you’re not a thing. Like I’ve had people straight up be like, No, no, no, no, you’re not. Um. So that just specifically in my own intersectionality, people just fully do not believe we’re a thing. Or fully believe, especially in the industry that I’m in, that like we deserve a larger voice. Like if they want a Latina, I think I’m so used to like it being this cookie cutter, like super opinionated over the top, loud, which I am all those things, but not um all Latinos are that.  Um being oversexualized is a huge thing. 

Josie Totah: [?] People say that. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I think because I’m a Latina woman um people, being Latina and Black because of misogynoir more and then, you know um, machismo. So both just awful ideals that people perpetuate. I think people fetishize me in a lot of ways, like they fetishize me because they’re like, ooh, like– 

Josie Totah: Spicy Latina. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: You’re spicy, you’re exotic. You see me, I think that I’ve done– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah yeah yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –so much inner work [laugh] to not respond um from a place of hate when people say things. But I think my one thing that I still like my eye twitches when anyone says to me, which people still do, is that I’m spicy. 

Josie Totah: Well, also another thing that I’ve been prejudice to you about. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Oh gosh. 

Josie Totah: Is and this is in large part because of my own ignorance, I it’s so weird to say I grew up growing up in L.A. uh because I kind of did grow up in L.A. I moved here when I was like nine, ten years old. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah I feel like LA is a part of your– 

Josie Totah: The majority of my life. I lived in L.A., but I think because of that, so much of my experience and knowledge with Latino people is Mexican culture, because we are so close to Mexico. And like everyone, I grew up learning Spanish and meeting people that speak Spanish. And on the street you can speak to like one out of every– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –ten people, probably knows Spanish. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: In Los Angeles. And I– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Shout out to Cali Mexicans. 

Josie Totah: –just assumed. I remember we were at Aroma café and I was just like, you don’t like spicy food, how are you Latina and you don’t like spicy food? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And you were like, because I’m Dominican bitch. And we actually don’t have any spicy food. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: In our national meals. 

Josie Totah: In our national food. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah, and that is a misconception and it seems so minuscule. That is like one of the biggest things. And mind you, I love the Mexican culture. Like I’ve been called a Blacxican many a times in my life, and I’m honored, but I’m just like, I’m not that. There’s this thing that we do that we homogenize cultures and it does a disservice to all the beauty that cultures have within them. Like I’m I’ve had to tell people like, no, I’m not Brazilian. Like someone just yesterday in this hotel in Puerto Rico, a Black man came up to me and goes you’re Brazilian, right? And I was like, one sir, you don’t know me. Two, No, I’m not Brazilian. I’m Dominican. Like, people are so emboldened to just, like, assume. 

Josie Totah: Assume. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And I’m just like, don’t do that and ask. And like, growing up with my name, like, literally, like I had an agent once tell me that not even not even just that. 

Yasmine Hamady: Alycia [pronouncing name like Alisha]

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I had an agent tell me to change it– 

Yasmine Hamady: Alisha 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –because you know they weren’t going to see me for a Latina and shout out to her because she wasn’t wrong. Like for the first few years of my career, like, I just, was right. 

Yasmine Hamady: That. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Um people just didn’t want to see me. What did she want your name to be? They were just like, do you want to, like, drop your last names because it’s so long and because, like, you want to lean into being ethnically ambiguous. 

Josie Totah: Oh like Zendaya. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah, they were like, it’s so long– 

Josie Totah: I know. That’s what they always called me, ethnically ambiguous. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah they’re like you’re ethnically ambiguous. You can go out for everything and as a– 

Josie Totah: They still do. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –little girl, learning who you are. Like, it was hard because I did have to ask myself, should I be proud of being Black and should I be proud of being Latina? And then, like even in high school, I had like a group of people call me Consuela, like, and I’d have people be like, oh, Julio Esteban, like da da da from Suite Life of Zack and Cody because my name is Alycia– 

Josie Totah: Love him. [indistinct banter] 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Not the [?]. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: We love him. Shout out to him. Because my name is– 

Josie Totah: Did you inadvertently memorize it? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: No, that’s the thing. I didn’t know it. I don’t know [?] Julio. Like shout out to that Latino man. But– 

Josie Totah: His name is Julio Esteban.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yes, my name is Alycia del Sol Pascual-Peña, and I love all of my name and I’m glad that I didn’t change it or drop it for acting or to lean into being ethnically ambiguous. 

Yasmine Hamady: No. And you know what? Our ancestors and also your parents worked so damn hard to give you that name. They didn’t just wake up one morning and be like, Oh, her name is going to be Alycia del Sol Pascual-Peña. Like, no, they put effort into that, do you know what I mean? And so it’s important to carry that baton on because that is a part of your culture. 

Josie Totah: Yas I can’t think of any–

Yasmine Hamady: Um. 

Josie Totah: –misconceptions or stereotypes in our culture. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Why are you, are you lying? [pause]

Josie Totah: Stereotypes? 

Yasmine Hamady: Oh I’ve been asked before, I’ve been asked before.

Josie Totah: Any stereotypes? I can’t think of any. 

Yasmine Hamady: Um. Oh. 

Josie Totah: As Arabs? 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes, I can– 

Josie Totah: Bitch. I’m joking. Obviously. 

Yasmine Hamady: I could tell you right now I’ve been asked before.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: She said this is sarcasm. 

Josie Totah: We’re called terrorists, we’re bombers. 

Yasmine Hamady: I thought you were serious. I–

Josie Totah: We smell. 

Yasmine Hamady: We’re called we’re bombers–

Josie Totah: We’re disgusting. 

Yasmine Hamady: –we’re terrorists, we’re maids. We smell. Camels. Sand. Um. I’ve been asked before like, where is Lebanon or what’s that? The amount of times where I’m like, I’m Lebanese. It’s either, Oh, you’re a lesbian. Or I’m like, No. Or B.) um your Lebanon– uh where’s that. What’s Lebanon? Where’s that? Is that near Czechoslovakia? Is that near one of the countries in the Europe area? No, that is in the Middle East. 

Josie Totah: One thing– 

Yasmine Hamady: [?] fucking asshole. That’s what you can fucking do.

Josie Totah: –that I think is also important to mention, mention too that’s a misconception is a lot of people think all Arabs are Muslim and there’s obviously nothing wrong with being Muslim. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah.

Josie Totah: I have so many cousins that are and know people that are. But– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: [?]. 

Josie Totah: I think that there are so there’s so much religious diversity in the Middle East and specifically in Palestine. Like back in the day, every single creed um, religion existed in that area. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And everyone lived together happily, which is why it’s sad that–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: That everything that is happening– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –with the apartheid of–

Yasmine Hamady: It’s really sad. 

Josie Totah: –Israel. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And I think–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Free Palestine. 

Josie Totah: That is also something that is really difficult too, navigating the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the apartheid, because I in meeting people as an adult, and navigating the world as an adult and wanting to make friendships and connections and having such a turbulent thing, a part of that just comes with being existant makes things a lot more difficult. And like, I’m that’s why I’m really grateful to my friends who are from Tel Aviv and their families are from the other side of the West Bank. And like my friend Mimi and we have like long, extensive conversations. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And I think I think those are so important. And I also think my activism and my speaking out is so important. And I it’s so it’s so difficult, too, because I think when you talk about any apartheid or any oppressor, it’s hard to look at it like having conversation because how can you have a conversation with with about something that you’re being oppressed about, like where where– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And you’re own personal family–

Josie Totah: –where is the debate? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –is dealing with. 

Josie Totah: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I will say um. I really, really commend the both of you guys because I have seen people lack so much compassion in regards to the conversation about where you guys are from. Like you guys aren’t actually dealing with the implications of the apartheid. And it um disheartens me that I personally don’t think enough people around us are saying like Free Palestine and having this conversation with enough context and knowledge of what’s happening on the ground. Whereas as a friend, I think you guys really intelligently and kindly educate people when you shouldn’t have to, frankly, because people should be aware of the atrocities happening and the apartheid going on and the amount of lives being lost. 

Yasmine Hamady: I am not Palestinian, but I am, as an Arab woman I think it’s I think it’s all the more important as another Arab country and as another, we have to stand up for our other Arab siblings. Specifically in Palestine, because I feel so often the Middle Eastern countries, they want to remain silent on things and they want to like just mind their own business. When our brothers and sisters and siblings are being affected by this directly. 

Josie Totah: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: And that’s something like I pride myself and my family doing like we’re we’re never going to stay silent about this because it does affect the people we love. And it does affect us, too. Because, Alycia, you have said this and it has always stuck with me. And this is not even specifically to do with the Arabs, but this is something to do with every marginalized community, is what is the exact wording of it, a win for one marginalized community is a win for all?  

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah our yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Is that what you say? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I say it all the time like our liberation doesn’t matter if we can’t free our sisters and brothers. You know what I mean? Like I think that we should– 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –all be taking of space while allocating it for other people that don’t look like us or don’t speak our language. I think that’s what progression looks like. I think that if we want to fight for an equitable world, it’s about learning about other people while also standing true in who we are. 

Josie Totah: There is a lot of ignorance within the Lebanese community and there’s like a lot of like right wing Lebanese people. And that’s– 

Yasmine Hamady: Josie! 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: You want to take it there, lets take it there. 

Yasmine Hamady: Don’t get me started. 

Josie Totah: But that’s also important to talk about too, because not every community thinks the same, obviously. So I just I find that interesting. And I think we when we talk about 9/11, which was obviously one of the worst things to ever happen to our country and–. 

Yasmine Hamady: Mmm hmm. 

Josie Totah: Such an awful like abhorrent day and and event. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Josie Totah: But when we discuss it, I think it’s important. Not at the same time, because I think we need to honor the lives lost and how awful that was and how traumatic that was. But I think it’s also important to discuss the way– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 100%.

Josie Totah: –Arabs were perceived in this country changed tremendously after that day. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Absolutely. 

Josie Totah: And we didn’t even have TSA– 

Yasmine Hamady: Massively. 

Josie Totah: –or security at airports until 9/11. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah it–

Josie Totah: And and they were taught and they were, they learned how to look out for you know certain threats. And most of that was just racial profiling and navigating the world as an Arab person, one that I, an identity that I don’t necessarily am perceived immediately by people to have. So I have the privilege to pass in that way. But my family members who wear hijabs or you know cover their hair and are wearing certain things you know are immediately stopped or immediately spoken to. And there is evidence statistically that Arab hate crimes towards–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Went up. 

Josie Totah: –Arab people went up by astronomical numbers after that. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And I think that we forget how the way we are perceived, the way we perceive our own people. Um. And I just think that is an important thing to mention. 

Yasmine Hamady: I think it’s important to acknowledge that. But I want to go back to what you said about the right winged very conservative parts of the Arab community and also a lot of POC communities, too. There’s like this special little pocket of like conservatives, like, who am I thinking about? Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox. She’s a Lebanese, isn’t she Lebanese? [Josie indistinctly imitating Jeanine Pirro] She’s like this Arab woman who’s like pro-life [more Jeanine Pirro imitation indistinct and banter] pro-life, pro-Trump [Josie still indistinctly imitating Jeanine Pirro] like she and I’m just like, you give us such a bad name. She is Lebanese. And I’m just like, why Judge Jeanine? Why? Because you give us such a bad name. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yo, no. 

Yasmine Hamady: It’s like Marco Rubio. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Like I will never forget and I talk about it openly. One of the highest demographics to vote for Trump were Latinos, were white ass Latinos. And I will never– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –forget like you do not stand in solidarity with your sisters and brothers of color. And I’ve had people who are very right wing tell me Alycia pero we’re all Latinos. And I’m like, no, because we’re not living the same life. And you’re okay with being complicit to my oppression and you’re taking part in that. And there are, I think and I think this is a much larger narrative upon just immigration, not just even our own cultures, but people within our own cultures fit within this mold that they will get to America or immigrate from a place, understandably, because they’re overcoming adversity or they want a new life, which is something really commendable. But then they get there and they want to assimilate so bad that they believe that they need to prove themselves in whiteness or um associate with oppression. And I I’m sorry, like I will never justify that. I think I have–

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –an understanding and compassion why there are peculiar people that believe in the bootstrap theory. Um. And it’s like, No, I think that you’ve forgotten where you come from and are lacking compassion for people with immigrant stories and understanding that it looks different. Like my dad. I don’t know why he told me– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: -this as a little girl, but my dad would tell me because I have never understood why there are so many Latinos or so many people of color that are so complicit in the oppression of other people. And he would say, unfortunately, a lot of people do this thing and he calls it like the bus theory, because if you know anything about New York or even in Dominican Republic, we call them guaguas, are super packed. And it’s like before you got on the bus, you’d be chasing that bus. I know I ran after a bus in the Bronx. You be chasing that you be chasing that bus. 

Yasmine Hamady: Alycia. Alycia.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And you’re like, and you you– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –literally are trying to slip like a couple of dollars to the bus driver. Like, please, like, stop here in between stops. But then when you’re on that bus, you have people in the back advocating, no, keep going. They missed it. They missed the bus. They missed the bus or oh, nah nah nah like it’s this this bus is packed right now. 

Yasmine Hamady: Alycia. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And don’t want to let them on.

Josie Totah: I just realized you’re giving an analogy. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yes. 

Josie Totah: Because I’m like, Yasmine you’ve never been on a bus? [laughter] And so I was like why are you– 

Yasmine Hamady: Oh, what are you talking about? I’ve been in a bus.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: [?[ not an MTA New York bus though? 

Josie Totah: So so sorry, a party bus. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: No. And I’m not talking about np party bus. I’m talking about MTA– 

Josie Totah: No no no. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –bus in New York. 

Yasmine Hamady: So I’ve been on a bus, the one going from Newport Beach back to Orange after a fraternity formal. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Now you have Yas fighting for her life. [clapping in between words] That’s not what we’re talking about.

Yasmine Hamady: I’ve been on a bus. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: But anyways, it is analogy. It’s analogy for immigration. I must say not all skinfolk is kinfolk. We must remember that my sisters and brothers, and just because someone is from your community doesn’t mean that they respect your experience. I’m not naive to the fact that my parents sacrificed so much and overcame obstacles to allow me a life that they did not have. So it would it would be naive of me to sit– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –here and not understand the privilege that I’ve had by being raised in America. So I’m so grateful that I was allotted an education and I had resources that my parents didn’t have. Like they come from the most humble beginnings, um and that is never lost on me. Uh. So I’m grateful you know that I was raised in a country where I was allotted a lot of benefits. But I think the other side of that truth is because I am a minority, because I am proudly Black, because I am Latina. My experience had certain obstacles and I felt ostracized and I feel oppressed because um of my race and my culture and ethnicity. And that’s okay. But I think it is also important for us to acknowledge that we were blessed in a lot of ways. And there’s a reason that our parents are the immigrant story. And I would argue that we actually are the American dream. The three of us girls, we are the American dream. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes we are. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Like and, and you know, and like, I’m very grateful– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah we are. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –that I come from a household and two parents specifically that were very outspoken politically, like from a very young age. They made me aware of ways that this country um didn’t value us. But I would argue that on a land of the United States, that is of Indigenous people and built by African individuals who were enslaved, we are the dream. The fact that our parents from different cultures, from different countries came here and made a life for themselves out of nothing. That is poetic. I think we are the American dream. Like in the words of Ke, like when like when he was giving his speech. 

Yasmine Hamady: That is beautiful. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: That is the American dream to me. You know what I mean? Like him being an actor and his family coming from where they come from and him not feeling validated. And being an Asian man with an accent like that is what I actually think it is. I don’t think it’s this commercialized, superficial idea of the white picket fence um– 

Yasmine Hamady: 100%. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –without blended households. Um. And that makes me want to end with a question that brings me joy because I know how proud we are of our own cultures is, how did your parents living in America still celebrate and uplift your culture? Like, how did they make you aware of where you come from in your roots? 

Yasmine Hamady: For me, it’s the food. For me, it’s the people that we surround ourselves with. Yeah. You’re like the food. It’s we have an amazing community of Lebanese people that, like my parent’s friends. They’re my [?]. They’re my [?]. They’re my uncle, my aunts. Even if we’re not blood related, they are my uncle and my aunts. They’re my [?] and [?]. They’re my cousins. And we’ve only met twice. Um. It’s the music. It’s listening to Fairuz, who is an old Lebanese singer back in the eighties. 

Josie Totah: Nancy. Shout out Nancy.

Yasmine Hamady: It’s listening to my, shout out Nancy Ajram. It’s listening to my from listening to stories from my [?], listening to stories from my Tetah. Going back to my land and making it an important pillar of the foundation of our upbringing. So for that, my parents, like I’m in forever indebted to them and I can’t wait for my future kids–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: I agree. When I think of–

Yasmine Hamady: –to be doing for them. 

Josie Totah: –Arabic food I think it’s like water to me. Like, I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s like it’s so–

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Ugh! 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: It’s necessary. 

Josie Totah: [?] I’m eating something– 

Yasmine Hamady: No it does. No it does.

Josie Totah: –different. I just eat like hummus and tabbouleh. And I grew up eating mahshi my Tetah would make me Mahshi um back in the day, and that was like my favorite meal– 

Yasmine Hamady: Ugh. Josie. 

Josie Totah: –and like [?]. Like, there’s nothing better– 

Yasmine Hamady: My mouth is watering. 

Josie Totah: –than like your Tetah’s own meals. And I wish that I was old enough or to like, have more memories of that time because she died when I was quite young. Um. But so definitely the food, the people and just the fact that, like we as Arabs, we have such like a mob mentality in that sense of like if anyone else– 

Yasmine Hamady: Not a, we’re mobbing. 

Josie Totah: –is also an Arab that is our cousin. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Oh absolutely. 

Josie Totah: So I’m recognized in my own culture. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Very familial. 

Josie Totah: Anytime– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Josie Totah: –my I hear I get an Uber and I hear an accent and I’m like, are you Arabic, are you Middle Eastern and I know it immediately. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes, yes yes yes yes. 

Josie Totah: Or like when we’re on the street and my mom will, like, just start yelling at someone that she thinks is Middle Eastern sometimes it’s awkward when they’re not. Or like, if someone is Palestinian or Lebanese, like, they’ll be spending the night at our house. We’d only met them twice. But because they’re– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: They’re also Arab. Like– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: They’re home. They’re family.

Josie Totah: They’re family to us. And the only thing that I would be sad about or would be remiss if to not include and I know I don’t need DNA to do that is my Arab culture because I want my kids to grow up eating the same foods– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes Josie. 

Josie Totah: –that I did and all of that in that environment. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: So I think those are ways– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –we celebrate and we love to party. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Purr. 

Josie Totah: We did this weekend and we’ll do it again. And yeah, I’m just so proud of– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: –being Arab. And–

Yasmine Hamady: We love to party. 

Josie Totah: –I love Bella Hadid. And I love [laugh] Mo and I love Rami Malek. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Oh Mo’s so good. 

Josie Totah: And um and I love Ramy Youssef as well.

Yasmine Hamady: Ramy Youssef too. [speaking Arabic] 

Josie Totah: I know so. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I just want to say I’m really proud of you guys. It’s not easy to always stand in your truth in your in your culture, especially when it’s like politicized or people may deem it “controversial”, quote unquote. And I hope you guys both know like you have blessed me. I have been so honored and it’s been like one of the greatest gifts, knowing you guys to not only know you on a personal level, but learn more about your culture and your traditions and your phenomenal food um and just the uh sorry I’m sorry sorry food. I got emotional um and and learning about your intersectionalities and you guys are going to continue to educate people about where you come from and uplift and celebrate the beauty of where you guys come from. And– 

Josie Totah: But same for you, though. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. Thank you. I I like, I think anyone who knows me. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. Yeah. Can you can you tell us? 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Anyone who knows me knows like I rep where I am from. Like that it is tatted on my forehead. Um. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes, you do. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: I love my community so, so much. I think one of the biggest parts of my identity is being an Afra- Latino woman and standing proudly in that. Um. Through all the complicated intricacies of– 

Yasmine Hamady: Yep. Yup.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –people not understanding me or people I think commodifying my experience or fetishizing me, all of those things aside like I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Um. But I’m so grateful for each part of our culture, every single part I take pride in. And I just am always so humbled to share moments with my community. Like our food is the best. The [?] is like my– 

Yasmine Hamady: It is. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –my favorite meal on the planet. I could dance Bachata for seven days straight. Um. I think the energy and our resilient spirit of being on an island, like our joy like it is, I think, a foundation of who I am, like to look at things with an optimistic lens is because of, you know, in part because I’m Dominican um and man, are we crazy and boisterous. And I love every part of it. I love the [?]. I love the Dembow. I love sounding [?] de campo. Uh like I love all of it. I love [indistinct in Spanish]. Like I love all of it. 

Josie Totah: You better tell them. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: But thank you. Yeah. 

Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 

Josie Totah: I was just going to say that there is really no other culture other than my own that I feel so much pride in then Dominican culture. And it just it makes me so happy. And I’m so upset that, like, people are so ignorant because you are so beautiful and your story is so beautiful and your culture and your people are so incredible. And just like, thank you for constantly sharing that. And now when I go to a club or a bar and someone says that they’re Dominican like I scream. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: And like it makes me and then they’re very confused because they’re like, you’re literally a white woman. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. 

Josie Totah: But I’m like, you don’t understand. Like– 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: Yeah. [laugh] I want to close out this episode by dedicating it to our beautiful multicultural families. Wouldn’t be who we are like without them? And I also want to give the biggest abrazo y bezos, which means the biggest hugs and kisses to kids from immigrant families. Like you are seen, and whatever your cultural experience–

Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 

Alycia Pascual-Peña: –is, is valid and we love you. And don’t shy away from learning more about who you are and your ancestry and roots. It’s powerful and it’s special and you should feel beautiful in whatever your culture is. 

Josie Totah: I love that. That’s beautiful. Yay.

Yasmine Hamady: Thank you for listening. And we’ll be back next week. [music break]

Josie Totah: Dare We Say is a Crooked Media production. 

Yasmine Hamady: Caroline Reston is our showrunner, producer and mommy and Ari Schwartz is our producer and show daddy. Fiona Pestana is our associate producer and Sandy Girard is the Almighty executive producer. 

Josie Totah: It’s hosted and produced by me, Josie Totah. 

Yasmine Hamady: And me, Yasmine Hamady.

Alycia Pascual-Peña: And me, Alycia Pascual-Peña. Our engineer and editor is Jordan Cantor. And Brian Vasquez is our theme music composer. Our video producers are Matt DeGroot, Narineh Melkonian and Delon Villanueva and Mia Kellman. 

Josie Totah: Lastly, thank you to Jordan Silver, Gabriela Leverette, Jesse McLean, Caroline Heywood, Shaina Hortsmann, Deisi Cruz, Danielle Jensen and Ewa Okulate for marketing the show and making us look so damn good.