The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth by Kristin Henning
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
“Storytelling that can make people understand the racial inequities of the legal system, and…restore the humanity this system has cruelly stripped from its victims.” —New York Times Book Review
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.