“I will never forget the day that I walked into that courthouse and I encountered a group of young boys in the hallway chained together at their arms and legs. I had no idea that we shackled children in contemporary America.”
In The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth, attorney, youth advocate and author Kristin Henning shares her stories and research about the disparate treatment of black and brown youth in the criminal justice (or injustice) system. In this episode Lissa asks for action steps that each person can take to address the egregious disparities.
Kristin Henning has been representing children accused of crime for more than 25 years, The many thousands of kids she represented have all been Black and Latinx. Their crimes have included:
- Wearing a hairstyle that went against school dress code
- Listening to music in a car
- Liking a social media post by a suspected gang member
- Refusing to fully remove a mask inside the subway
- Living in a neighborhood known for gang activity
Kristin Henning spent her life trying to ensure that children whose families did not have the means to defend them against a criminal justice system steeped in bias had someone to speak up for them. She is also the Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law, where she and her law students represent youth accused of delinquency in Washington, DC.
The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth has been applauded by judges, lawmakers, public intellectuals, but in order for it to have full effect, it also needs to reach everyday people outside of the legal profession.
Go Deeper: Additional Resources
(6:42) A reading from the author
(11:24) In the conversation about resiliency, Lissa refers to Dr. Joseph White, who became known as the godfather of black psychology. Learn about Dr. White’s Seven Psychological Strengths of African American’s.
READ AN ARTICLE IN THE MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN RECORDER ABOUT DR. WHITE’S PRESENTATION TO MINNEAPOLIS LEADERS. (THE MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN–RECORDER (MSR) IS THE OLDEST BLACK AND MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS IN THE STATE OF MINNESOTA — THE VOICE OF BLACK MINNESOTA SINCE 1934)
(25:78) Lissa and Kristin talk about the resiliency of Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park 5, now referred to as The Exonerated.
Listen to Lissa’s interview with Yusef Salaam on Black Market Reads
(39:14) WHAT IS Kristin reading?
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
Reviews of The Rage of Innocence
Publishers Weekly “Copiously documented and passionately argued, this is a powerful and persuasive call for change.”
Washington Post: by Robin Walker Sterling, “For Black kids, typical childhood behavior is often seen as a crime”
New York Journal of Books: by Joseph Barbato, “The Rage of Innocence is an important and timely book—an intelligent, compassionate, and indispensable argument on behalf of Black children.”