09 Jan

This Podcast Celebrates What It Means to be French and Arab

Latay is a safe space for diaspora kids

Written By Sarah Ben Romdane

With shows dedicated to literally every single thing you could be possibly be interested in, podcasts have become hugely popular over the last few years, creating necessary safe spaces for marginalised communities whose voices are rarely heard in the mainstream. “To be able to come together with people who look like you, understand you and speak about things you never speak about on a regular basis is liberating”, says 20-year-old French-Algerian Lyna Malandro, founder of Latay (tea in North African Arabic), the new podcast decoding what it means to be a young second-generation Arab immigrant in France.

 

With a heartfelt but ultimately comedic voice, Malandro and her team explore their own experiences in living in a cultural limbo and celebrate the many people who, just like them, have been made to feel “othered”.

 

 

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A tout ceux qui n’ont pas eu de cadeaux aujourd’hui, l’Atay a pensé à vous ! Dans ce nouvel épisode, on discute de l’art, la culture et de sa perception dans nos communautés et notamment avec la famille. On revient sur les premières fois au musée, sur l’importance d’avoir assez confiance en soi pour porter ses projets, même quand nos proches ne croient pas en nous. Le troisième épisode de l’Atay est disponible sur Soundcloud, Apple Podcast, Spotify et Mixcloud, tout les liens sont à retrouver dans nos stories et sur le site (lien dans la bio). Ps : a tout ceux qui se demanderaient, voilà la tenue que portait Kawter le jour de l’enregistrement….

Une publication partagée par L’Atay 🍵 (@lataypodcast) le


We caught up with Malandro to find out how she’s reclaiming the diaspora narrative and why a platform like Latay is so important to her.

 

When did you decide to make a podcast?

After having created my platform VraiesMeufs (French for RealGirls) where I explored one side of my identity (my gender), I wanted to create a project that explores a whole other side of me: my dual culture. But I didn’t plan the way it all happened. Kawter, who’s part of the team, had to produce a video to apply for a school. She gathered many North Africans to discuss themes related to our community. We spent hours chatting like we all knew each other for years. At the end of the day, we were all frustrated to leave each other. It was the day before Ramadan so Théophile, who’s also part of the team, said it would be cool if after Eid, we could all meet up again. During the summer, I kept thinking about that moment, and this is when I decided I had to create the podcast.

 

So why did you call it Latay?

Latay is a dialectal North African word, which refers to tea. I was dreaming that we were all having tea and then when I woke up I started thinking about how teatime was such a beautiful moment of sharing, that isn’t only relevant to Arabs, but to so many other nationalities. At home, it’s always during teatime that we have the best conversations. I liked also the nod to “serving the tea” and the idea that teatime is “gossip” time.

 

 

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Latay ? @ibtissamoussar for @cheyma

Une publication partagée par L’Atay 🍵 (@lataypodcast) le


What are the main topics that Latay aims to explore?

We usually take two or three key words and then we just freestyle from there. We talk about going on holidays back “home”, our relationship with the Arabic language, with our family, with art, with our feelings. We’d like to tackle more on the issue of representation in the public space, speak about racism, colonisation, and orientalism. With the terrorist attacks over the past few years, Islam was everywhere in the news, it was all about Arabs, North Africans, immigration… We were so saturated by the flow of information, but it was never people who looked like us who were speaking for us. We believe that our voice as young North Africans from France has a weight and that we have a right to express ourselves. We want people who are part of any diaspora to relate to what we go through. There’s a huge gap to fill.

 

How did you struggle with your identity growing up?

When I was a kid I thought that everybody came from two countries. I didn’t understand how some were only French or only Algerian! I was always very proud of both sides until my teenage years. I’ve always lived in the 93 (a suburb just outside Paris) but went to high school in Paris and was enrolled in kind of an elitist class. During all these years, I was going through things I couldn’t share with anyone and felt like I was the only one living my struggles. For example, it sounded completely absurd for my classmates that I wasn’t going out at parties. I felt like I was living a double life and that my parents were completely disconnected with the realities of the life of a teenager in Paris. I wasn’t feeling well, it felt suffocating. A few years later, I met people who had lived that same cultural limbo as me and realised I wasn’t alone. With the guys from Latay, we’re all very different but share similar experiences and that made us come together. I can also cite the “Beurettocratie” movement of Lisa Bouteldja, which really felt like relief to me when I first heard about these girls. The only issue with safe spaces is that they become refuges, and when you withdraw too much, it can become dangerous too.

 

 

It seems like more and more young Arabs are reclaiming their identity and celebrating it. How would you explain that?

I think we all realised that the shame we were feeling wasn’t normal. We had almost developed internal racism: that’s why we laugh at immigrants’ accents and things like that. We finally realised we had a right to exist, to be proud and to make a difference. Today, there’re so many ways to reclaim our narrative. I was very inspired by my friend Neila Romeyssa, or by Grace Ly, who fight against the stigma around Asians in France or by the afro-feminist movement too, and hope to contribute to those movements in my own way.