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Charis welcomes Kristin Henning in conversation with Dr. Bettina Love for a discussion of The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth, a brilliant analysis of the foundations of racist policing in America: the day-to-day brutalities, largely hidden from public view, endured by Black youth growing up under constant police surveillance and the persistent threat of physical and psychological abuse. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Drawing upon twenty-five years of experience representing Black youth in Washington, D.C.’s juvenile courts, Kristin Henning confronts America’s irrational, manufactured fears of these young people and makes a powerfully compelling case that the crisis in racist American policing begins with its relationship to Black children.
Henning explains how discriminatory and aggressive policing has socialized a generation of Black teenagers to fear, resent, and resist the police, and she details the long-term consequences of racism that they experience at the hands of the police and their vigilante surrogates. She makes clear that unlike White youth, who are afforded the freedom to test boundaries, experiment with sex and drugs, and figure out who they are and who they want to be, Black youth are seen as a threat to White America and are denied healthy adolescent development. She examines the criminalization of Black adolescent play and sexuality, and of Black fashion, hair, and music. She limns the effects of police presence in schools and the depth of police-induced trauma in Black adolescents.
Especially in the wake of the recent unprecedented, worldwide outrage at racial injustice and inequality, The Rage of Innocence is an essential book for our moment.
KRISTIN HENNING is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant on the intersection of race, adolescence, and policing. She is the Blume Professor of Law and director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at the Georgetown University Law Center; from 1998 to 2001 she was the lead attorney of the Juvenile Unit at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Awards she has received include the 2021 Leadership Prize from the Juvenile Law Center and the 2013 Robert E. Shepherd, Jr. Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense from the National Juvenile Defender Center.
Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of education reform, anti-racism, carceral studies, abolition, and Black joy. The aim of her scholarship is twofold: firstly, to advance how the field of education understands and critiques the systemic and structural racism of public education within the U.S.; and secondly, to advocate for abolitionist approaches in the field of education that seek new possibilities for educational justice. In the pursuit of making her scholarship a reality, she works with activists, communities, youth, families, and school districts to build communal, civically-engaged schools rooted in the aspirations of abolitionist strategies that love and affirm Black and Brown children. In 2020, Dr. Love co-founded the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN). ATN’s mission is simple: develop and support teachers and parents to fight injustice within their schools and communities. In 2020, Dr. Love was also named a member of the Old 4th Ward Economic Security Task Force with the Atlanta City Council. The goal of the Task Force is to advance dialogue and form tangible solutions for guaranteed income.
She is the author of the books We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including Educational Researcher, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and the Journal of LGBT Youth.
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A brilliant analysis of the foundations of racist policing in America: the day-to-day brutalities, largely hidden from public view, endured by Black youth growing up under constant police surveillance and the persistent threat of physical and psychological abuse
We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Paperback)
Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award
Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.