tv Kristin Henning The Rage of Innocence CSPAN December 5, 2021 11:00am-12:01pm EST
>> most of these authors have appeared on booktv and you can find the programs at booktv.org. just type the author's name in the search bar at the top of the page. >> good evening, everyone. welcome, thank you for joining us tonight. my name is desperate on behalf of harvard book store i'm very pleased introduced this event tonight with krstin henning present her book "the rage of innocence: how america criminalizes black youth" in conversation with premal dharia. again thank you joining us virtually tonight. through virtual events like this one harvard book store continues to bring authors and their work to our community are in wide.
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there's closed captioning available for tonight event, so if you're not seeing the close captioned you could click on the closed captioning button of the bottom of your screen and you should be able to see the closed captions. finally as you may have experience in virtual gatherings these last few months tactical issues may arise. if they do we will do our best to resolve them quickly so thank you for your patience and your understanding. and now i am so pleased to introduce to nights speakers. krstin henning is professor of law and director of the juvenile justice clinic and initiative of the georgetown university law center. professor henning serve as a law schools associate dean for clinics and experiential learning from 2017-2020 at the 1990-2000 what she was the lead attorney of the juvenile unit of the public defender service for the district of columbia. in 2020 when when she received the leadership prize in the juvenile law center. her previous work on race, adolescence and policing appears in several journals and books
and she's an editor and co-author of the anthology rights, race and reform, 50 years of child advocacy in the juvenile justice system. joining professor henning and conversation that is the executive director of the institute to and mass incarceration at harvard law school, premal dharia. they will be discussing "the rage of innocence" which examines the long-term consequence of racism experienced by black teenagers at the hands of police. the impact on adolescence development and the depth of police induced trauma and black youth. in a starred review publishes weekly called it copiously documented and passionately argued, this is a powerful and persuasive call for change. paul butler law professor at georgetown university writes that the "the rage of innocence" is a lucid analysis of a a brilliant scholar at the top of her game. it blesses readers with commonsense solutions that provide hope we can do better for our children and our democracy. we are so happy to have them both your tonight. without further ado i will turn the digital podium over to you,
kristin and premal. >> thank you so much. i'm so honored to be here and in conversation with you, kristin, a publication day come on release day. first and foremost congratulations, and second i want to four grams of this conversation with my sort of biggest point of gratitude and recognition, which is you said in your book, the quiet part out loud, through a masterful book which we will discuss in much more detail. you weave together data examples, reflections and anecdotes to do just that come to reveal a structural truth that we don't talk about in that way. for that we are and generations to come will be grateful. i want to start a conversation with an anecdote in the book, the story of eric. you describe the prosecution of
eric, a 13-year-old boy boy that you represented in court, a boy who would watched a movie in which there was a molotov cocktail, who was curious and creative and attempted to mix together some products and create something of his own in his house, and who on saturday night put that project away, forgot about it, forgot that it was in his backpack when he went to school on monday morning. when he got to school and went to security he was asked about it and he said, to woodway, as you describe. the nightmare unfolded. he was pulled out of class, question, arrested. you can craft that story with mr. applewhite, what a white mother told you in response to this, to what she heard about eric, that her son had done the same thing come try to make a molotov cocktail. when he asked her what happened to her son, she said the school
rearranged his schedule so that he could take a chemistry course. it's an immensely powerful story. story. it has haunted me since i have read it and it he think it wr a long time to come. i start with that because it's so powerful and i would love for you to talk to us about the context, the ground, why you start with a story like that and how that impacted the book. >> yeah, thank you so much, premal, one come for joining in this conversation but yes. i mean, i think that is the right question, like why do i tell this book as a combination of stories and research and data, and i've got to say more than anything else i wanted to ground this book in the lived experiences of black children, right? this book is for and about black children and wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
so opening the book with a story and a story about eric. the other thing is that i really wanted readers to see themselves in come and to see their children in the book, so i think the best way to do that is to tell stories and to tell stories like eric. but more specifically why derricks story? i have to say his case for me was a real defining moment in my recognition of how incredibly different back children are treated from white children. i have been representing children, still represent children to this day, for well over 25 years. but that moment when i was at a conference and i shared eric's story, eric's very basic story about making something that looked like a molotov cocktail, and to be clear, you know,
making something that was never going to blow up, wasn't even flammable, just wasn't going to be by any stretch of imagination a real molotov cocktail. so i shared this story at the conference, a white woman walked up to me and she said, you know what, the exact same thing happened to my son and they rearranged as you said his classes and he was put in accelerated science classes. and for me that story and what happened to eric thereafter was a profound demonstration about how we see and treat black children, number one. was not the presumption of guilt. he told the school resource officer that literally that is nothing, the bottle is nothing. please feel free to throw it away. he wasn't even trying to claim it. but still this presumption of guilt, the refusal to give them the benefit of the doubt, as a child, that story was really
powerful because it reminds us about the presence of police officers in schools. and so much more. eric and i ended up spending nine months in court. i say eric and i because i was representing him, but nine months in court before his case was resolved. so i i just think it was a powerful way to open the narrative and set the stage for everything else that it really wanted to talk about in this book. >> i clearly couldn't agree more. i think it's the most powerful story and it leads also to the sort of bigger question of what inspired the book? what inspired you to take these stories and this knowledge that you have gained from your role and make a book added? >> i got to tell you, as a former defender, it is really hard to be a defense attorney for as long as i have been an not want to blow up the whole system, okay? but i have been able to do that
so i keep representing kids, and we keep fighting for reform. but i wrote this book really, you know, hoping that i could educate folks and draw people into this fight, and the fight is the need to alter both the narrative about black children but also the ways in which we treat black children. i think the book was inspired definitely by eric's story. it sat with me for years. never left me here but also by the fact i have been representing children for 25 years, and in that entire time i've underrepresented four white children. that is mind-boggling in the city like d.c., yes, it has a high percentage of african-americans but by no means is it the city that is absent, void of white children altogether, and it's just not true that white children don't commit crimes.
so i am clear that my representation of owning or mac white kids is really an intentional and sometimes collateral outgrowth of a larger structural framework. you use that earlier, it's a structural framework that push of black children into the criminal legal system and it starts with a historical narrative that black youth are less than human, all the way back from the air of slavery when black children were treated as the property of others, to the civil rights era, right, with emmett till was lynched. really as a symbolic statement of the limits of black adolescents, as a statement that white america was not going to tolerate school integration. and to justify this type of brutality and dehumanization of black children, lynch mobs and politicians intentionally portrayed black children as violent and dangerous, and that is a theme that has continued
really through the '80s, through the '90s and to the point where we are today that these ideas and these fears about black children have become so deeply embedded really in society, that even most egalitarian among us don't even realize how deep are vices are against black children. >> it seems, you've mentioned this a little bit and your remarks just now about your role as a defender and sort of the numbers being so incredibly stark, but it seems like your role as public defender is important to address you because of the unique role defenders play in both seeing and being able to convey some of these things you're describing such as the reality of policing and policing in schools, the every day violence. could you speak to that, how do you think is shaped view of things? >> it's the birdseye view, right, and to be caught i think public defenders are the story
keepers. or the storytellers and the story keepers both outside the courtroom and i think because we're so busy and so overwhelmed often inside with our caseloads inside the court that we often don't have time to tell these broader stories outside the courtroom, and so wherever we can, whenever we can i hope that we as defenders of this opportunity to tell these stories and a think the national jewel defender center, organizations have really done that well, telling the stories, but we also as defenders have to be careful our cells, right, not to get caught up and complicit in assistant, the judicial system that was designed to control black children and rented a minute greater resources for defense attorney so every child has adequate incompetent zealous defense counsel and we have to
explicitly and we as defenders have to explicitly and persistently challenge racial investments wherever we see it in our cases. i would be remiss if i did not say though that defenders alone are not going to solve this problem that we're talking about. this problem, this criminalization of black children as both cultural and again structural jerk culturally it is about the harmful narrative that we are perpetually, that we've talked about and structurally it is about the law, the policies, the institutional structures, the practices, all of which work together to privilege some children and disadvantage others. >> i want to dig in a little bit more of that structural piece that you just described. of framing thing come sort of framing. we've been talking up children throughout the book in ways that might be familiar to a broad audience better evocative.
you describe similar feelings about children generally how to act and how we forgive. this is a theme you weave the rat and the specifically name black children and to talk about some of the specific differences in our behaviors, social behaviors and are policies and our loss. this is a theme throughout and is so evocative the way you frame it. it's very powerful and forceful. tell us how you develop some of those themes with regard to those sort of sociocultural norms. >> yeah. i mean absolutely, structural racism is perpetuated through the norms of society, and really i love that you used the word evocative, because truly that was my whole point, the number one goal was to evoke feelings of normal adolescence. i want each and every one of us to remember what it's like to be a child, remember what it was like to raise a child and we wanted to play in in the parg
out with friends. what do we do as teenagers? we challenge authority, tested limits. we experimented with maybe with the drugs, may do with sex, whatever, all of this is normal, healthy adolescent behaviors. this is how young people become independent, assertive, creative. how we become healthy social beings, right? but then as you say what was really what i was trying to do is to revoke those feelings of normal adolescence and then called the mine for some to introduce altogether, for others that many black children are denied these basic freedoms and the basic necessities of healthy adolescent development. when black children are treated as a threat, like tamir rice in the park are treated like a gang when hang out with the friends like all of us did, right? i really wanted readers to see
that, to see that disparity, that denial of normal adolescence in the stories and to understand how much harm we are doing to black children. and then i would say this notion of evocative, right, i the one of them to feel the pain, feel the pain and the trauma that black children and their families experience when black children are stopped, first arrested -- frisked, rested and even shot. so yes, it's cultural, structural, research-based but more importantly i wanted people to feel it as a lived experience. >> the feelings leap off the page. i really can't say enough how powerfully i felt them. related to that you just mentioned tamir rice. you weave throughout the book you weave high-profile stories that many people might be familiar with like his come with
one jew encountered in your daily practice, and your daily work. how did you approach that balance merging different types of stories? >> that's a great question because that was hard, very hard. tell you i i did not want to tell a whole lot of stories that edwin had heard already. i did want to tell a lot of stories which people would say to me all, that's just an outlier, right? that's just one case. everybody, every police officer isn't the way, and that's true, but i really wanted to do two things, to dispel this notion that this was an outlier problem and to get away from just repeating stories that we heard. so i did two things. one, i wanted to retell some of the stories with new information. there are so many nuances, so much back story to so many of the
the high profile cases of really brutal if you wrote or violent police youth encounters like tamir rice or shakira murphy who was snatched from her chair in north carolina for the texas girl at the pool party who were body slammed into bathing suits at a pool party. what i really did with those stories is i watched a lot of documentaries. to be honest with you i i wand to honor the stories on the voices of those children and from their families. those are their stories. they are not my store size watching documentaries and interviews. i could tell the stories in a more nuanced way and that was really painful to do but worth it. but then really almost more important i wanted to leave in the stories of my clients, 25 years worth of representing black children in the district of columbia, to show that this
is still happening today and that it is not outliers, that the trauma i'm talking about, the criminalization i'm talking about happens every day with young people. i also wanted to make the point that when we talk about criminalization and trauma i am not talking about physical violence, physical brutality by police officers, but i am also talking about the trauma that is associated with living in day to day, a heavily surveilled neighborhood with police officers who asked young people where are you going? where are you coming from? lift your shirt so i can see her waistband and see that you are not carrying a weapon. children who go to school with high numbers of police officers in their school at the front door, and said that nature. so i really wanted to bring that to life for people as a daily reality. >> right.
in our conversation thus far the word adolescence has come up a few times and i wanted to take that on in how you address it. you take it on in the book, can you tell us all a bit about the creation of adolescence and why it matters in the context of this book? >> yet. i love that question because i was so fascinated to learn about this. i am of the age where i have always understood adolescence to be a distinct stage of development, , right, so this childhood, adolescence and adulthood. most of us take that for granted but it is actually adolescence is actually a relatively new concept in american society. the modern idea of adolescence did not appear until the late 19th century and did not gain widespread traction until the
1950s or 60s. and so before the industrial revolution truly we thought of our society thought of development in only two stages, childhood which is pretty much anyone under the age of 18, sometimes people would say under the age of 21, and adulthood include everyone else. but as industrialization began to shift the nation's economy from farming to manufacturing, then the role of children in society changed as well, and so this shift in workspace or worklife created these higher-paying jobs that required skilled labor, advanced education. and so many parents, especially parents in the middle class, began to encourage their children to stay in school and to develop their skills that they needed. we see high school enrollment radically increase, even
mandatory school attendance laws begin to appear. college enrollment increased. professional schools enrollment increased, and so with this time of extended education we teenagers no longer had to work and now had this new season of prolonged self-discovery, new opportunities for fun and leisure and, of course, the first people to reap the benefits of that whether white middle-class youth. history research shows that adolescence was essentially invented, , right, invented by e white middle-class to give their children and advantage in the change in society. so i mean it's really important to note, premal, adolescence has value in society. it's considered a good thing for healthy development to make us prosperous and good adults but it also has a value, it's a freedom come is a luxury that not everyone has it's
fascinating really fascinating to learn that research, that history. >> moving just sort of a little forward from that, a scene that is sort of broken down throughout the book is criminalization, right? it relates but you break down criminalization a few different categories in the book. you very carefully selected play, culture and sexuality as the sort of three kind of schematic areas to break it down and i would love to hear if you could tell us sort of how you decided on that breakdown and what the themes are behind them? >> so that was a little juggling. what i really, i sort of back my way into those three broad categories, and instead what i found myself doing was looking at concrete examples of the ways in which we think about what we care about as teenagers gets
viewed and treated differently depending on race. what do i mean by that? think about what is important to teenagers. they care about the music. they care about their fashion. they care about their friends and they care about all of, extreme edition. so sexual experimentation,, experiment with drugs and the like. these again are all normal adolescent things that we all cared about when we were kids, but we think we perceive these activities differently when black youth are engaged to them. let's just take a couple of examples, music, right? country, metal, hard rock, all of those genres have misogynistic, violent lyrics and languages, and language if they have themes that we are worried about our children hearing about drugs and sex and things of that nature, but we tolerate it.
it's popular, it's cool, and then there's rap music, which is what, you know, listen to my african-american kids, and what rap is perceived to be the most dangerous music on the planet. i had to stop and give a shout out to my great friend andrea dennis who she and eric nielsen wrote a great book on this, rap on trial. but my point here is that genres, we treat even the genres of music differently based upon who's listening, right? so that matters. fashion is another one, right? so think about sagging pants. i know my whole audience is groaning. no, we may not like saggy pants. you may not want to see your neighbors kid with her underwear showing but is it criminal? that's the question, should a child they for it? we know sagging pants had been
associate with young african-american kids and the stereotype is kids with kids with sagging pants must be violent. but let's think about the clothes other teachers have learned throughout history, the tie-dye shirts and the bellbottoms, , right, in the 1960s that was associated with weed and hallucinogens for young hippies and the morbid all-black attire, right, and all black hair is, associate with the cost culture in the 1980s and with a a school shooting in the 1990s. we have never outlawed any of that. and then my last example on that one is think about young people who walk around with shaved heads and where steel toed doc martens with red and white shoelaces. that's the group of kids have been associate with violent racist and anti-semitic acts as skinheads, but we have never outlawed any of that.
that's a lot of what i was doing was looking at the cultural norms that we accept and even applaud, right, among white kids but that we treat, , we do differently among black kids. i should just note that i really want to make the point here that i throughout the book we've together the narratives about black boys and black girls, and that i do want to separate them. the stories need to be told separately something in the book and you tell them differently but they are interwoven but this is one of the places this notion of clothing is definitely one of the places where lack girls have been uniquely targeted, have been through school dress codes with the perception that the clothing, normal clothing choices of black hills snl hyper sexualized and the like.
culturally and black girls hair has been demonized in any number of ways, again through school dress code and the like. that's really what i i was dog there. >> yeah, it's so powerful and there's so much good research and so many good anecdotes throughout that whole section of the book. a lot of the ways of course in which criminalization is manifested through policing so wanted to take a minute about policing specifically because they goes hand-in-hand with the sort of broader themes you've been talking about. could you speak to somebody sort of police specific ways in which that criminalization is manifested? >> yeah, and it really appreciate because you are pulling out the point, the book as a whole is about that criminalization of black children. which is we've already said culture, we said it is structural or right in the middle of the book i really zero
in on the policing in particular as just one part of the larger whole. i talked about policing in a number of different ways. i talk about the hyper surveillance of children i police, black children by the police on the street. talk about police in school. talk about use of force and then i will say a word about policing as proxy, the ways in which traditional law enforcement practices actually sanction civilians to treat black children as criminals. .. >> people are, have been shocked who have started reading the book at just how pervasive police officers are, some of you who are listening know that well, but many people don't know
that. resource officers, if you live in an urban community, right, that serves a population of pretom in and aboutly black -- predominantly black and brown children, police in schools are very prevalent, right? and so with that comes this culture, people buy into police in schools because they believe that it makes schools safer, right? but it's the really this false binary with the idea that we can achieve safety and the only way to achieve safety is through policing, and it's just not case. so i really unpack that in the book, and i talk about ways in which, actually, police presence many schools is harmful to adolescent development. it creates a negative school climate, it increases arrest rates for children because why? because if you have a police officer in school,st the easier for a teacher to pick up the
phone and call the police officer to handle a traditional discipline, right? racial disparities are significantly higher in police contacts and in police arrest rates but reserved to kids to the courthouse from schools, things of that nature. there's a lot to talk about with schools. but what i really want to say here is that people, we're getting to the school conversation, we forget about day-to-day street surveillance, right? the ways in which i talked about earlier kids live, you'll read about in the book, who are literally terrified of police officers because they see them and are stopped by them just so many times in their lifetime. and so it really just undermines the freedom to walk about society that you and i take for granted. so i talk about that a lot, i
talk about use of force and the data that shows that black children are six times more likely to be shot and killed, you know, by a police officer rooted, keeply rooted in the racial biases concern deeply rooted. and in the final area, notion of policing by proxy and that policing, high profile police killings, right, of young people are always followed by this narrative that essentially says black child deserved it. they were dangerous. they were threatening. like mike brown, they had to paint him like a demornings an animal -- demon, an animal, a monster the. that's how that story got told. anden then trayvon martin, well, he must have been bad, he must have been in my neighborhood to threaten and steal. and so i just say that the practices, law enforcement practices sanction white
surveillance, right, to call, pick up and call 911 to take action against black children. the fear we have of black children. >> you know, it's key stating. it's an incredible read. i couldn't put it down, andst the devastating at the same time. and it's the devastating at the same time. you end with hope, and it's an indictment, right, of what's happening structurally and culturally in our country. and you move in this very hopeful direction. and i would love for you to if you could tell us about what motivated that and anything you can share about hopeful direction can at end would be great. >> yeah. [laughter] so you can, you know, get to the end and see, you know, i pick
back up on the story you opened with, the story about the young boy who had the molotov cocktail. but, yes, yes. chapter 12, the last chapter of book, is all about resilience, right? it's about hope and resilience. and that our way out of this is being in partnership with young people, right? and so, you know, by that i mean when i think about the, let's just take one aspect of this, when i think about court systems which, mind you, talking about kids involved in the court system, we're really a late in the game. we need to be talking about youth/police engagement at front end which i do talk about also in chapter 12. but when you think about, you know, court involvement, this is about rehabilitation. our country's juvenile court was
designed to rehabilitate wayward youth. that was the idea. but we seem to have really lost our way. with we seem to believe that black children aren't resilient and aren't amenable to rehabilitation. and i think, so i start the, you know, chapter 12 with this notion that black children are as resilient as every other kid. and so that sort of, you know, from the structural lens if we think about how to. shape and reshape laws. but more importantly from the water framework and people always can ask me what can i do if i'm not an actor in the system, what can i do, really i say every single black child needs an irrationally caring adult in their lives. and so for most children, that's going to be their parents.
but it also should be mentors, it should also be teachers, counselors, spiritual leaders in the community, you know, any of us, right, have an opportunity to get close to and engage with young people. and so i say, you know, in the book that i, you know, with this book i can't end racism in america. but what i can cois offer up some -- can do is offer up some solutions and tips that help us support black youth as they a navigate over these waters, right? while we are also, you know, offering suggestions for ways in which to reform structure and the culture of our society. so, yeah, i mean, i think, you know, i cohave hope. [laughter] i couldn't write this book if it didn't end with hope. >> following on that point, i'm
just going to jump into one of the questions that i see coming in because it relates directly to what you just said, and i think it would be great to look at. there's a question about people who are working within the system some way with youth, not necessarily transition homes or other places where they're trying to implement trauma-informed practices and ways of giving care. what are ideas or suggestions that you might have for people who are kind of in those roles to resist hyper-surveillance and criminalization and cultural norms that you're talking about that are the really, you know, pervade ising everything in the system -- pervading everything in the system. for people that are sort of in this space? >> yeah,st a wonderful question, and we talk about the it a bit when we do, you know, trainings and workshops for different state actors. and i think there's a couple of
things that we can do. one is really creating a safe space for young people to talk openly and honestly about those the experiences and how they see see -- the in other words people are watching, right? and they can see and feel the bias and discrimination and oppression in the system as trauma, right? so can i have an open and honest conversation about what does it look like day-to-day to ride public transportation, to walk into school, to, you know, be called into court, to engage with a police officer, to enter a convenience store the, right? with psychologists on staff the, let's just say, having these conversations with young people to really help -- because someone said to me literally
today, actually, in preparation for a training workshop that i'm doing coming up. and they said, wow, you know, until you ask me these questions, give us an example of the ways in which people are seeing concern oh, my gosh, i don't know that i can beyond a handful give you concrete experiences, and i think we need to be the asking our kids, right? because they don't always have the words with, the space9 and the understood to share that. so i think that's one, you know, one thing. i also think it's being honest and saying, hey, sometimes i as an actor in the system am going to make a mistake. i'm going to say things wrong, right? i'm going to interpret some behavior by you as wrong, and i'm asking you to tell maine i invite you to tell me and hold me accountable, right? for how you see me or how, how
you think i perceive you, if i'm to hurting you or harming you. so i think those are true suggestions in that regard. >> yeah, that's great. thank you. when i said address the idea of change, right, and about the rights of anger and resistance and acting for change that can come from learning what we can coin your book, right? i learned so much, we all learned so much, and it can be very inspiring and motivational. so much of it comes from turning personal pain into political action, and you describe washington keyes and the movement work -- washington, d.c. and the -- [inaudible] many others as well. can you talk about the importance of activism as you see it? >> absolutely. i, wow, i wish i could remember what year it was. i want to say it was 2015.
never forget, we were, you know, the advocates, the cults, -- the adults, right? we were mounting an attack, if you will, qeps some really, we thought the, really bad legislation that was coming could be the pike -- could be the pike in washington, d.c. that would have been making juvenile court records public. so we, you know, got all the advocates together from the abuse and neglect community, defenders' offices, and we ran this campaign to go to city hall and testify against this legislation. and some of our graduate partners a said, you know what? we've got to go wet the kids concern get the kids. and sitting in city council and literally 300 children showed up and just testified, you know, one by one by one. it was supposed to be a one-day hearing, probably supposed to be
a half-day hearing. that was my first real introduction to youth activism, you know, on the ground. it's actually really great research on how healthy activism is for young people in terms of democratic engagement. it's healing in a way because it allows young people to name their traumas and to identify solutions -- organizations lead and are leading the police movement all across the country,
right if it's young people. and even students in parkland, remember, after shooting many parkland, yes, they wanted their school to be the safe. they want their school to be the safe, but so many of those students came out and said, but let's be clear, i don't need you to come to school and bring more police officers to make us safe. we're not going to police our way out of a mass shooting in the future. one of the things that i say in the book is if you want to know how to fix this problem, if you want to know to how to help black children, then ask them the, right? create a seat at the tabling for black children to show up and participate. and when black children speak to you or any child speaks to you
in language or a tone of voice that you as an cult -- an adult might not appreciate, we have to be patient and listen and accept them on their own terms. so, yeah, i love that question. it's really important. >> it's a real call to action. so a couple of these questions, we have a bunch of questions from the people in the audience. related to the question about people who work in the legal system, are around it, there's some questions about schools and are trying to figure out how to implement, how to the provide the kind of care that the you were describing, right, earlier. do you have any thoughts about that? >> yeah. first of all, the person asking the question recognizes that
there are alternatives, right? so how, if i am overwhelmed -- and let me just say that a lot of this has got to be at, i hate to say at the grasstops, some of it is about grass tops, this notion of the city the leaders, right, allocating the resources so that our teachers and our counselors have the support that they need to serve children that they care so much about, right? so it means, you know, shout out to mayor bowser who recently allocated $8.8 million in the budge to increase mental health services in school. so it's about getting before the legislative body, participating in that budget allocation process and insisting upon what we know to be evidence-based
practices, right? that school safety comes with smaller class sizes, right? which means more teachers. it comes with greater access to mental health care, you know, behavior intervention specialists, restorative justice, positive behavior intervention. all of that takes money and legitimate, sincere commitment at the grass-tops level, right? and so i think teachers and staff folks who are in direct contact with young people have got to go in partnership with the young people about what they want. so that's the macro level. and i think on that day-to-day the levels the resisting that urge to call the school resource officer, to -- i know that's so easy to say because people say, of course, you're not a teacher.
i know that the, right? and i feel your pain having worked with young people for well over 25 years and working with young people in crisis. but figuring out, like, what's the strategy going to be, asking if i teach in a class that that has a lot of kids suffering from trauma, asking for that behavior specialist to be the assigned to my classroom, right? so that i can, you know, have have a safer way, you know, have someone who can support me and sit with that student and talk the with that student instead the of having to call school keep the i to come and drag the them out of classroom which is actually more disruptive for all the other kids in the classroom. those are just some of thoughts that i have around that. >> yeah. and there's a series of questions from different fields saying how do we implement them,
so there's one more along these lines about mitigation and whether you or others have been able to kind of put into not just some of these -- [inaudible] reference in your book, how that's been received. >> you know, absolutely. i have to say so i do so much of the work that i do in partnership with the georgetown juvenile justice the initiative, you know, iowa yee shah, jan, teresa, everybody. but also in partnership with the national juvenile defend per center and -- defender center and all those folks, ebony, sharika, amy, everybody. i could go on. i will not. but the point being is that now more than ever state actors, judges, prosecutors, defenders, probation officers, everybody, police officers are really
committed to these conversations ab racial justice reform. really committed to it. and so we have had more -- and more opportunity i think than we ever have to have these conversations. you talk about mitigation, whether it's the how do we incorporate, you know, as a part of the argument racial disparity and so that the arguing, look, mitigation, you know, really thinking about disposition planning on that back end. and talk about how black resilience actually doesn't look different than the white resilience. and that if we made a all of the rehabilitative opportunities available to young, to black youth as we did to white youth, we'd be better off. other way we use this word of mitigation is in defense of
charges, right? so it's a little legalistic, but if a child is charged with threats against a police officer or, you know, some sort of aggressive behavior against a police officer, what we are doing in our conversations with state actor thes is saying we've got to the -- actors is saying we've got to understand that these young people are entering these encounters with police with a history of oppression behind them, black people in particular and the police. and so that when a child sounds like -- we talk adolescent aggressive speech. when a child sounds like they're talking back or being aggressive or even sounds like a threat towards the police officer, very often what's happening is the child is just expressing their resistance, they're expressing their discomfort, they're expressing their fear of police, dissatisfaction with law enforcement in the best way they
know how. so as mitigation, maybe we shouldn't be processing this as a threats case and the like. so that's just an example. but, yes, yes, you know, we are really making greater inroads as a defense community but period across all -- in reimagining the intersection of race, adolescence and culpability if, right, for criminal behavior. >> yeah. there are a number of questions about you and your process and how this experience has been for you. so one of them is, you know, after 25 years of doing the work, defending youth, in the process of researching and writing this book was there anything that really surprised you? did you learn something new that, you know, took you by surprise that you hadn't previously known about or thought about? >> yeah. i think so -- look, if we're
honest with ourselves, as defense attorneys and other practitioners who work side by side and directly with young people, and, yes, in a lot of ways we live through our clients, right? their experiences, right? and so i had always felt the pain of my children and their families. i've had many nights, you know, crying with children and their families and their parents. but at the same time, i go home at night, right, and i have a wee bit of a buffer. and i think writing this book forced me to go back and sit with all of that trauma in a different way. the empirical research now that supports the dramatic impact of policing on black and brown children and of the impacts of racial discrimination on black and brown children was keeper than i expected it -- deeper
than i expected it to be. so that, i think, was surprising. i think the historical pieces were surprising. we talked just a little bit about -- i'll be honest with you, i always thought that the police in schools movement, evolution was deeply rooted in columbine and a reaction to mass shootings. and then when you really dig into that history, it is much more about the racialized legacy that followed the brown v. board of education. it was all about putting police in schools not to facilitate integration, but to impede integration. i think some of that history, that history of adolescents was fascinating. so that was in here, and i see the person -- somebody else asked a question similar to that one about whether any motional
moments writing the book. there were a lot. throughout this process with me jo morrison and kirk adkins, i lost many a night, nightmares reliving some of these stories, watching parents, you know, trayvon martin. like i said, i wanted to hear their voices, you know? they really matter to me. it's a lot of fear, a lot of pain. it took a long time to write those chapters. chapter 31 is the -- 11 is the chapter that was, by far, the most painful for me. it was the black family in the era of mass incarceration, it was horribly painful. but i needed to sit there so i could really feel what my clients were living with. and some of my own personal story also. very few black families today, i'll just say it, are not personally impacted by criminalization or the criminal
legal system, and my family's no exception. so some of that is there as well. >> thank you for sharing. there are a couple of questions, and i don't know if there are any that are jumping out at you in particular. there are a couple of questions about girls and women. and you mentioned that earlier, making sure to call it out in particular. particular things that you want to kind of highlight about those particular issues facing young women, girls? that would be great. >> yeah. i mainly, i debated this one. i talk to a lot of people about this a lot, do i write a chapter that's just about girls. and and i really wanted to make the point that when we talk about the criminalization of black youth, it is both, black boys and black girls. and so in every opportunity the that i got, i tried to
introduce, interweave back and forth stories about black girls who were criminalized in different ways and to really talk about the trauma that they experienced both directly by being, again, hypersexualized, you know, treated as, you know, as any other girl or any other black youth. but also as the collateral, if you will, as the collateral harm when black boys and black men are removed from their lives, right? removed from their lives as, you know, as siblings who get shot or killed, as fathers who are incarcerated, as, you know, boyfriends who are taken from them in all of those ways. and so i thought there were
definitely some things, and i guess giving those subtitles, the ways in which girls are treated differently, but i really interweave it together very, very intentionally. so -- >> thanks. i really, you know, i want to -- the notes of gratitude. also what can come from saying the quiet part out loud. as i said earlier, to me, that's what really, you know, resonated with this book. it's this sort of big, structural truth, and you just -- we say it and you say it so beautifully through all of these different tech the anemics of research -- neck anemics of storytelling and in a way that is so engaging. and, you know, creating something that resonates with
people, that resonated with me, there's an important piece to call out which is you're naming these issues, and it gives people permission to do something. it opens up that space. it gives legitimacy and a call to action. in some ways it's a book, but it's not just a book. it's not just pages that have been covered. it's a call to action. and i'm just is so personally grateful for that, and i imagine our audience is too. and all the people that will be reading your book in the weeks and months to come, they thank you for that. thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this conversation with you. i'm so honored and just thrilled that this book is in the world now. >> thank you so much. i really, really appreciate you. all the work that you co, i -- you do, i always say, look, america's obsession with incarcerating black folks starts with the children. so very much proud of this work
so thank you and thank you to harvard bookstore for having us to start off this stream of conversations that is, hopefully, going to continue to have. thank you. >> thank you both so much for being here and having this important conversation. thank you to everyone in the audience who came to join us tonight, and you can learn more about this book and purchase "the rage of innocence," at the link posted in the chat. i just want to say thank you again for joining us. have a good night and, please, keep reading. >> and now on booktv the, we're live with author, historian and hoover institution senior fellow victor davis hanson who over the next two hours will take your calls and questions via e-mail, text and social media. his books include "the second world wars," "the case for trump," and most recently, "the dying citizen" in which he argues that the idea of american citizenship and the ideals associed
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