The Rage of Innocence Book Conversation


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Drawing upon 25 years of experience representing Black youth in D.C.'s juvenile court, Henning confronts America's irrational, manufactured fears of Black youth and makes a powerfully compelling case that the crisis in racist American policing begins with its relationship to Black children. Discriminatory and aggressive policing has socialized a generation of Black teenagers to fear and resent the police, and details the long-term consequences of racism and trauma Black youth experience at the hands of police and their vigilante surrogates.

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. Henning examines the criminalization of Black adolescent play and sexuality, and of Black fashion, hair, and music.

She highlights the effects of police presence in schools, and the depth of policing-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 has been representing children accused of crime in Washington, DC for more than twenty-five years and is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant on the intersection of race, adolescence, and policing. Henning now serves as the Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law and was previously the Lead Attorney of the Juvenile Unit at the D.C. Public Defender Service. Henning is the recipient of many awards, including the 2021 Leadership Prize from the Juvenile Law Center and the 2013 Robert E. Shepherd Jr. Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense by the National Juvenile Defender Center. She has written numerous law review articles and other publications advocating for reform in the juvenile legal system.

This event was sponsored by the departments of Public Health, Social Work, and Sociology & Criminal Justice.

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