Fear is normal. There are times when we simply don’t believe our personal faculty will keep us from harm. Fear can be an indicator of a healthy point of self-awareness. For those that are less athletic, fear may keep them from engaging in a dangerous contact sport or fear may fuel their drive to gain skill and become stronger. Fear may keep you from bungee jumping or skydiving, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, fear should stem from the differences between ethnoracial, religious, gender, or any other type of group. Fear simply should not come from qualitative differences. That type of fear is toxic and ultimately leads to the harm of others.
On July 4, 2019 in Peoria, Arizona, 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin lost his life to a brand of fear that this country knows too well: racism. Elijah entered a gas station and was attacked by Michael Paul Adams. Adams murdered the teen because Elijah, at some point, was playing rap music. Adams’ defense was that rap music was dangerous and that he had been attacked previously by people that listened to rap music. Adams has been charged with premeditated murder and is currently being held on a $1 million bond.
As we wait to learn more about the case it’s important to note a few important points. Adams has a history of criminal behavior including assault. He’s spent time in prison. It has also been suggested that mental illness played a role in Adams’ behavior, however, this argument has been countered—some suggesting that Adams is not severely mentally ill. Adams has also been referred to on social media as a white supremacist.
Elijah Al-Amin is another young black child that lost his life to fear and hate. No parent should receive this kind of phone call. No parent wants their child to become the next hashtag. We saw this in Florida when Jordan Davis was murdered under similar circumstances, and it’s not so different than the murder of Trayvon Martin. As Adams’ (likely court-appointed) attorneys make a case for him not being fit for trial, please support his family and friends as they seek #JusticeForElijah.