A light was shining on and through Regent Park this past weekend as long-time local poet-in-chief Mustafa took the Alternative Album of the Year Juno award for his 2021 album When Smoke Rises on Saturday. He used his acceptance speech to eulogize friends from the community.
"I wrote a record on death. I wrote a record on loss. On the loss of friends in Regent Park. And I had to do it because as they were breaking down my community, I realized in that moment that the only people that were going to be able to document the memories of my friends were the people that knew them. I watched Canadian publications announce the deaths of my friends using mug shots, descriptors being dated criminal records and I knew then that I would have to rewrite their memories.
I'm not going to speak about how I am the first Black Muslin to get this award. I think that being THE FIRST OF ANYTHING should now be critiqued more than celebrated."
"I want to thank Ali's mom who is here today. I hope I did justice to the memory of your son....and I want to send a prayer to all of the young people who passed by way of violence, who passed without any retribution or reason. And I hope that we can continue to dismantle the state-sanctioned violence, the systemic violence in all of our communities. And I hope that Canada tries to actively pull it from the ground because I feel like Canadian systems are constantly trying to bury the horrors of what those systems are doing to our communities."
Thank you guys so much man."
On Sunday, surrounded by his friends, he performed Stay Alive on the Juno stage and CBC television in a bullet-proof vest labelled "POET". You can watch it here:
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