Michael Adams has been charged with the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin. It is reported the vicious and senseless attack occurred because the teenager was rap music in his vehicle at a gas station, causing Adams to feel unsafe. Despite being unprovoked, Adams stated that the attack transpired because those who listen to rap music are a threat to him, as well as his community. Although many would have you believe that this unthinkable crime was committed around a historically marginalized and denigrated genre of music, it’s also the sense of community built around hip hop that’s creating the rallying cry for justice.
Currently, the local Arizona media is dismissing Adams’ attack as an untreated case of mental illness, but the people of the internet seem to disagree. Thousands are taking action on Twitter and Facebook forums with the hashtag #JusticeForElijah, protesting the act of violence as a racially fueled hate crime. Activists worldwide are uniting with a decades-long plea for racial impartiality that is most obviously delineated in contemporary hip-hop music and culture. Hip hop has been historically crystallized as an art form born from the triumph and tragedy of black expression- a passion of Elijah’s according to friends and family. Too often, the art is associated with crime, and ultimately the dehumanization of an entire race: “The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people,” (Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor).
As the war between hip hop enthusiasts and conservatives continues, Adams will await trial for the murder of an innocent young man, Elijah Al-Amin. And while an entire community anticipates the outcome of Adams’ sentencing, Elijah remains entombed in the same music he was murdered for. Although Elijah Al-Amin’s senseless death was fueled by an irrational fear of rap music, it should never be forgotten that this genre of music can unite. Face the Music Foundation has seen rap and hip-hop mobilize communities and save lives.