I know I always bring serious news to this segment, but today is one of those days where I have to report something that I wish wasn’t even a story.
It’s already gone viral across the Internet, but today I am here to tell you the story of 17 year old Elijah Al-Amin – a young Black boy who was stabbed to death at a gas station by a suspected white supremacist named Michael Paul Adams – for something that sounds eerily familiar.
7 years ago, at a gas station in Florida, 17 year old Jordan Davis was shot and killed by a white bigot simply for having the music up loud in his car. In that case, Jordan never laid a hand on his killer. He never even got out of the car.
Well, it’s happened again – Michael Paul Adams – who had only been out of prison for 2 weeks – openly admitted to police that the one and only reason he murdered Elijah this past Thursday night at a Circle K gas station in Peoria, Arizona, was because he said he felt threatened by the hip hop music Elijah was playing.
They never even exchanged words. Elijah never touched the man. He literally just walked right up to Elijah and killed him right there on the spot.
Elijah was a responsible high school senior working a summer job at Subway and had just gotten off of work and was heading to his girlfriend’s house. Typical teenage stuff.
In a tearful interview, his father said that Elijah dreamed of moving out of Arizona, and wanted to see the world. He planned on going to college for hotel management and was saving up to buy a car of his own.
The hashtag #JusticeForElijah has spread across the Internet – and local activists and organizers are calling for the killer to also be charged with a hate crime. And I agree with that, but for a few minutes, I have to keep it all the way real.
White kids don’t get killed for having their music up too loud.
White kids don’t killed for walking home in a hoodie.
White kids don’t get killed for playing with toy guns in their front yards.
Those experiences are uniquely Black experiences in this nation.
I can’t tell you how many times on this show that I’ve had to tell some version of this story – about a beautiful young Black boy who was murdered – by police – by a random white man – or even by one of our own – over a bunch of nothing.
And as I travel this country, one of the questions that I get – particularly from Black mothers – is “Shaun – how do I protect my son?”
And before I answer that – let me teach you something for a second. Because sometimes I think we don’t know if our boys are actually being killed in huge numbers or are the stories just told and shared widely.
Black boys 12-19 years old, are the only boys in this nation whose leading cause of death is homicide. Only ones. For every other race and nationality – it’s accidents, it’s suicide, but for Black boys, it’s murder.
So listen to me – I just want you to hear from me that we are not overreacting when we are so hyper-protective of our boys. We are not doing too much. I know it feels like, but the dangers that our boys face – those dangers are real.
And in our own house, where our son is just 12 years old, we guard him like he’s precious, we go out of our way to keep him under our watch.
And listen – I’m not blaming this family, I’m not blaming Trayvon’s family, I’m not blaming Jordan Davis’s wonderful family – I know those families – they were all wonderful, protective, loving parents – our kids can’t always be under our watch. They just can’t.
But listen to me – and I’ve never said this before – keep them under your watch as much as you can, for as long as you can – because our boys are a target – they always have been – and in this nation – they always will be – they are a target from more people – from police, from bigots, and from threats in our own communities.
It’s why I think we need to follow the lead of Jordan Davis’s mother, Lucy McBath, and Trayvon’s parents, and always find ways to be speaking out against the plague of violence in this nation, but I’ll close with my best advice to you this morning.
For as long as you can, keep your boys under your watch and care. It’s ridiculous that I have to say that – but the threat is real. And the older we can get them – the more likely it is that they’ll make it in this ugly country.
Listen – I’m following this case closely – and will keep you posted as I hear more about it.