Is “Mental Illness” The New Excuse For Racism?

Michael Adams (L) is accused of stabbing Elijah Al-Amin because he felt threatened by the teen’s rap music being played.

I’m so tired of turning on the news and seeing innocent people losing their lives for no good reason, especially young people who still have their whole lives ahead of them. I can’t stand to see another life lost because of hate crime. It’s breaking my heart to see this keep happening to my people and recently yet another one of these crimes took place.

On July 4 around 2 A.M., 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was fatally stabbed in the back and his neck was slit at a Circle K convenience store in Peoria, Ariz. If that isn’t already sad enough to hear, the reasoning behind it is even worse. He was stabbed to death by Michael Paul Adams, 27, for listening to rap music. I literally felt sick to my stomach when I read the news article. Why did this young man who was doing absolutely nothing wrong have to lose his life as a result of something so stupid? Why do my people continue to be targeted even when there’s literally no justifiable reason for them to be attacked? He didn’t deserve any of that. Now we add on to the already unnecessarily large amount of parents having to plan funeral arrangements instead of proms, graduations, and weddings.

Al-Amin tried to escape from Adams but ended up collapsing. A witness at the scene tried to apply pressure to the wound and police and fire personnel tried to give him medical care at the scene as well. He was quickly transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:05 A.M.

Adams tried to justify his actions by saying rap music makes him feel “unsafe” and that he had been “attacked by people…who listen to rap music” before. These people that he spoke about just so happened to be a part of the Black, Latino, and Native American communities. Don’t you find it ironic that all of those are minorities? Coincidence? I don’t think so. Many feel that this is a hate crime and I completely agree. If it had been a white teenage listening to rap music (or any other genre of music for that matter) this wouldn’t have happened. That boy lost his life simply because of the fact that he’s a minority. The thing that angers me even more is the fact that I’ve barely heard this being talked about anywhere.

People have become numb to things like this happening. There’s so much bad happening everywhere and because it’s so common to see stuff like this, nobody ever says anything about it. It’s talked about for a second then we move on to the next thing. The longer we as people decide to not acknowledge the sad reality that people are being injured and killed because of hate crimes, and actually do something about it, the longer they will continue to happen. That means more innocent lives being lost. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that there are people really fighting for us and trying to make a significant difference, but if we continue to lack unity it’ll be to no avail.

Of course they tried to use the whole “he’s mentally ill” narrative that always gets used when a White man commits a crime. It’s getting old and played out at this point. People who commit crimes need to be held accountable for their actions regardless of color. Mental illness needs to stop being used as an excuse for racism. Also, this isn’t his first run in with committing a crime either. According to CNN, Adams had just been released from prison only two days before the stabbing took place. He’s going right back because he was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Adams was found walking near the crime scene and had a pocket knife in his possession according to AZ Family. It was also said that there was blood on his foot, left forearm, and his left hand. He even admitted to stabbing Al-Amin because of “probable cause.” It’s good to finally see someone white being detained immediately for their clearly wrong actions. That’s not something that we see anymore when it comes to social justice.

Family and friends of Al-Amin are deeply saddened because of this tragic event. His father, Rahim Al-Amin, described him as “a good kid, a very good kid, always willing to help kids, help people in general.” His mother, Serina Rides, said their last words to each other were “I love you” and she was “at peace with that.” No parent should ever have to deal with the pain of losing their child, especially not because of some mindless, cruel crime. May Elijah rest peacefully and may justice be served.


By Cierra Lemott, Senior, Brooks College Prep

Instagram & Snapchat: @cece.kodak

Cierra Lemott

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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