tv Kristin Henning The Rage of Innocence CSPAN August 11, 2022 1:59am-2:48am EDT
the world changed in an instant but mediacom was ready. internet traffic soared and we never slowed down. schools and businesses went virtually and we powered a new reality because at mediacom, we are built to keep you ahead. >> a nationally recognized trainer and consultant on the intersection of race, adolescents and policing. a professor of law and director of the juvenile justice center grant initiative at the georgetown center university center. from 2 1998 in 2001 she was the lead attorney for the public defenders service for the district of columbia.
rewards received include the leadership prize from the juvenile wall center out of the 2013 award for excellence in juvenile defense. her latest book how america criminalizes black youth was described by the analysis from a brilliant scholar at the top of her game and by the "washington post" as comprehensive meticulously researched, written in a language accessible to lawyers and people alike most importantly articulating reforms inwithin reach right now.
his stories have one prizes sponsored by poets and writers, philadelphia stories, baltimore city paper and have appeared in mississippi review december magazine orchestra review among other sources. his nonfiction has appeared in suwannee review the forward baltimore sun, new york daily news washington independent review of books and other publications and for the last 23 years. he's taught high school in baltimore. could you please join me and welcoming our guest today? thank you so much. i am so excited to be talking to a professor henning and i was saying a moment ago that as i got myself ready for this interview. i was looking at a video of her colleague paul butler. interviewing her and he began by saying he thought he knew this subject. well the criminalization of black youth and what he learned from reading professor. henning's book is that he really didn't know it and i sort of feel the same way. i'm in year 24 of teaching high
school english in baltimore. so i've spent you know a lot of time with teenagers in classrooms over the years and i thought i knew this subject also and the book just revealed so much that i didn't know so i just i wanted to begin by saying that a lot of your book is really about how normal routine adolescent behavior gets criminalized and black youth. could you just begin by sharing some of the ways this happens? yeah, i think maybe the best way to start that is to maybe start with a story and i'll tell you a story about a young child that i represented name eric. i call him eric in the book. eric was a 13 year old boy at the time who on a saturday night was watching a movie and in the movie. he sees someone making a molotov called a molotov cocktail and his 13 year old brain. he says oh that looks cool.
let me see if i can make something that looks like that right. he doesn't research it. he doesn't ask anybody how to make it. he just goes into the kitchen. he grabs a glass bottle and he begins to pour in whatever liquid he can find pine saul bleach, you know water whatever and then he grabs a top and my favorite part of the story is that he takes a piece of toilet paper and runs the toilet paper from the inside of the bottle to the out all of us here know that toile. is going to burn out before it even gets to the top. he closes it up. he tapes it up. so it looks like a molotov cocktail he plays with it. it's saturday night. he then forgets all about it puts it in his book bag next thing, you know on monday morning his mother drives him to school. he puts his book bag through the metal detector and a security officer a school resource officer says to him. what is that to which he immediately says? oh that is nothing you can throw it away and he goes on to class.
he doesn't think anything of it little does he know that is the beginning of a nine month ordeal in our nation's capitals juvenile court. he is prosecuted for attempted our sin and possession of a molotov cocktail. here's where really the contrast exists between what would happen to him eric as a 13 year old african american boy and and a white child. i went to a i gave a talk not too long this in, connecticut. i tell this story as a part of my talk and a woman comes up to me a white mother she comes up to me and she says to me my son did the exact same thing and i said what happened to him, and she said he got placed in advanced science classes. i mean it blew my mind and that is sort of one of the many stories. i tell in this book is just sort of the origin of why i really as long as i have been doing the work. i have been representing children in the nation's capital
for 26 years, and i really wasn't until that moment that i just really realize just how much we criminalize black children for just the most adolescent typical behaviors, right everything from the clothes that they wear the music that they listen to talking back to adults experimenting with all the things. i want to ask you to show your hands, right? but all the things that we did when we were kids and then all the things that our children did right. it's not to say that we don't want to redirect or correct children, but the question is how and do you arrest them? do you prosecute them? do you put them in security detention facilities? do you label and do you stigmatize them? so that's just one example, but there's so many right? yeah, right, right, right and the the detail about the white kid who was essentially rewarded for the same thing. that really struck a chord with me as a teenager i was somewhat adrift i dropped out of high
school. i was impulsive i was thrill-seeking. i sought the attention attention of my friends and i always always had a soft landing i oh i had so many second chances. i was always forgiven. i was always given the benefit of the doubt and eventually i write it myself because i had so many chances. so that really hit home for me. so, you know when i think of when i think of the impacts of implicit racial bias, i think first of um of young black men and it affects them. you know, i'm used to now years of stories from young men coming into class and i mean, it's so routine it hardly gets my attention anymore but being stopped by the police pull up your shirt sit on the curb. turn at your pockets empty your book bag often when they're just getting back and forth to school or on their way to work.
and so when i think of the impacts of implicit rachel bias, i think first of young black men, but your book makes really clear that young black females are in no way immune from this kind of criminalization. could you talk about that a little bit absolutely, so when i started writing this book people would say to me. oh, are you gonna have a chapter on black girls and i was very clear i said no. no, i'm not gonna isolate it to a chapter. i wanted to weave it throughout the book and so i go out of my way every chapter to try to find example not even try it was easy. they're readily available as you know from being in baltimore city schools, but readily available and so one of the things is in addition to the stories that i tell i weave in the research and so there has been really powerful research on the ways in which black youth have been adultified meaning that they are perceived by us all of us civilians by law
enforcement as older than they are the research on black boys shows that black boys are perceived to be more than four and a half years older than they actually are that's a huge impact. so if you see a 16 year old child black boy he appears to be four and a half years to be 20 21 years old. so similar research has been done on black girls interestingly enough out of georgetown georgetown center on poverty and inequality did a powerful study finding that adults tend to perceive black girls as older more mature more adult like more knowledgeable about adult topics less innocent and less in need of protection again having an absol. profound impact upon the ways in which you engage with the child when they are doing again. what kids do impulsive reactive emotional fairness fanatics sensation seekers all those things. so black girls aren't given that
grace and they're also treated you know, as as sexually promiscuous. so all of the myths of you know, the jezebel myths are still very much alive today and you see them in the ways in which dress codes are just disparately enforced against black girls in many public school systems, so yeah, you say some really interesting things about sort of very typical kind of adolescent attire or the clothing that a lot of black kids wear hoodies a lot of white. i mean, i got a 15 year old son. he stays in a hoodie all the time. so you say some really interesting things about about the clothing the hoodie the sagging pants. could you talk a little bit about how these are all these features of attire are also used kind of weapons against black kids. yeah. i think i could. ask we're in the hippie air.
hide eye t-shirts and the bell bottoms that were, you know associated with with the hippie error, and we're associated with drug use hallucinogens and the like we never criminalized right? we never made it a criminal. to wear a tie-dye t-shirt. think about the all black attire and straight black hair that young people wore during the golf error. we never outlawed that even though it at times became associated with mass shootings. think about today the the steel toe doc martens with red shoelaces, right that some groups not all but some white supremacist groups have endorsed as their clothing attire. we never made that a criminal offense, but think about what we do make a criminal offense the it is against the law in some states across the country or some cities as city ordinances to wear sagging pants.
let me be clear. i don't particularly want to see anyone's underwear either, but should it be a criminal offense? should it be the basis for a stop by police officer a frisk and a rest all of these things that you're talking about and that have led to right think about what we know about adolescents who are fair. fanatics right. so you approach a child who who knows that they're being signaled at singled out right and the encounter between an officer and a child goes from zero to a hundred and become something something much more serious than just that sagging pants violation, right? so understanding that and then the hoodie the hoodie is not outlawed but to be clear a black child in a hoodie is perceived to be a threat and a danger right? and so absolutely clothing has been one of the central ways in which black children for have been stopped and criminalized for normal adolescent behavior, and i do want to say one just
thing is that when i talk about the criminalization of black youth i'm not just talking about police officers in a blue uniform. but again, i also talk about policing as proxy all of us as civilians who are inclined right to pick up the phone and call the police when we are afraid and we have to ask ourselves. we talked about implicit rachel bias. why? frayed right yeah. i love your expression fairness fanatics. it is so spot-on about teenagers. yeah, i was thinking of the last time i had a police interaction. it was pretty minor and uneventful. it was seven or eight years ago. i was very close to work in baltimore. i got pulled over for making a right turn on red. i i think i was allowed to make it but i didn't come to a complete stop. so it's pulled over and one police officer was on my driver side, but curiously another police officer was on the passenger side and he had his
hand hovering just above his gun during this brief encounter and nothing much came about i think i got a warning and it was over pretty quickly, but the image of that police officer just to my right with his hand on his gun is kind of etched in my mind. i mean he didn't do anything anymore threatening to me than simply standing there with his hand near his gun and i was thinking of this a lot during the book. you know how that it's very minor encounter with the police is you know? made a big impress made a big impression on me and so among the many very moving stories you write about in the book you talk about you. tell the story of kevin who has stopped more than 50 times by police and i think there are a lot of people in the world. perhaps a lot of white people that can't imagine what it's like to be stopped 50 times by
the police before you're 20 years old. could you tell a little bit about kevin and his experiences? absolutely. so kevin was a 17 year old child that that i represented and one day we're sitting in the office at georgetown we run a clinical program representing kids in washington dc and the phone rings and it is kevin and kevin is calling to ask us is there a warrant out for my arrest and so we thought it was a very strange question because we had just seen him the day before right he had been in court with us today before clearly if there was a warrant out for his arrest. they would have picked him up from the courthouse we could hear his mother in the background yelling boy. you're just being paranoid. well, it turns out that kevin had been sitting in his window of his home looking out and he could see. a police car parked in front of his apartment complex and the there were two officers who've
been who had been in the car and they had been sitting there for two hours. he was terrified to go outside because he was convinced that they were waiting for him to come out so that they can arrest him right and so as i heard the story and i thought about it i said to myself he's not being paranoid right? he's traumatized and for me, that is really what made me dig into the research on the trauma. and so your story is is that police encounters are not de minimus. i was just having this conversation yesterday with some court officials in in indiana that we think we often think that a temporary stop or even a traffic stop that maybe you know a minute two minutes three minutes our dominance not a problem, but they are have a lasting traumatic effect, especially on black and brown children. so and i you know, i could tell more about it. a growing body of research documenting the extraordinary psychological trauma that black
and latino children in particular experience in contact with the police children who've grown up in heavily surveilled neighborhoods heavily surveilled schools or who are just the the frequent target of stops and frisk and the research shows that young people who have these frequent contacts report high rates of fear anxiety depression hopelessness. they become hypervigilant meaning that they're always on guard right not trusting police officers and that distrust of law enforcement transfers over to other state actors teachers counselors court officials folks like that. right all folks who might be an ally and i say to officers i do trainings with police officers and i say look, this isn't an anti-police research not an anti-police conversation. you need to understand that the blue uniform carries with it a history of race rel. in this country and then add to it the contemporary examples of high-profile violence by the
police really means that every time a teenager particularly a teenager of color engages with an officer. they're bringing to that encounter fear and trauma right in ways that are critically critically important and then what's really significant and powerful about the research is that it shows that a young person does not have to be the direct target of that police contact to experience the same kind of trauma, but just like kevin getting up in the morning and having to worry about becoming into content with the police is produces a similar levels of trauma and anxiety. yeah, i was struck by in the book. i was struck by your use of the word hyper vigilance. that's normally a word that i feel like i see connected with war veterans, you know who come home after serving or more. that's really disturbing. so i was thinking of you know when i've had experiences over the years with kind of kids who
might be difficult and one way or another oppositional um, it's been a long time, but i've been cussed out by kids and you as a teacher. we're kind of trained. or expected to de-escalate to smooth problems out to make the problem smaller to find a path forward so that you know both you and the student can function productively. and you know, i find my i found myself wondering over and over again as i read the stories in your book. why isn't this more of an emphasis for police? why why aren't they? why isn't de-escalation. problem solving conflict resolution. why aren't these kinds of values more? woven into how police do their job.
police engaged in the lives of children in the first place, right? how do we radically reduce the footprint of police officers and law enforcement officers and the lives of children and i think that helps explain why they don't have training. they're not, you know, a police officer comes to the scene and is trained in the academy to do what they've always done right to investigate to to intervene in violence, right? they're not trained to be teachers mental health counselors advisors mentors not to say that they can't do those things, but it's never been a part of the traditional framework for law enforcement. and in fact, we did some older research i think from 2015 found that less than percent of police departments across the country had any training whatsoever on juvenile justice or on youth and adolescent development, even in
more recent research in 2018 and 2019. they found that police officers assigned to schools right assigned to schools that more than 60% of them had never been trained on the adolescent brain adolescent development, unbelievable. no deescalation. none of that. so there's been some recent push to make that happen, but the question is just it's not a part of the dna is not part of the framework, right and it seems like such a terribly urgent. need among police so you write about how increasingly many schools including schools in dc look more and more like prisons and you know, i've seen some of this at my school the kit the wanted down. they get their book bag searched. sometimes these measures sort of come and go like you know what one year. we'll have it another year we
won't have it, but we have it now. and i've seen kids get pepper sprayed by school police and which is a real? a really terribly disturbing thing to see up close and personal. the last time i saw a student get pepper sprayed in school in the hallway. it could have easily been de-escalated and it it the kid immediately began rising on the linoleum and vomiting from the pepper spray so i wanted to ask you about what the impact i mean, i've seen how this kind of alienates kids the wanding the searching the bags not all kids some kids. they don't care. some kids are are really put off by it. i've also seen how it can even depress attendance? yes, so could you talk a little bit about how many schools increasingly look like prisons and and our staff by police and
i guess we can get to it but one thing you're book brought home is like one once a kid is caught. in the jaws of the criminal justice system. it's it is as if they are at the mercy of just some really destructive impersonal forces that they go to work on them and and all that is sort of set up sometimes by police and schools. so in a a one of the the divide creates the greatest uncertainty and questions, which is this notion of the role of police in schools and whether they should be there or not and i will say this that i for the longest time like you said, you know doing the work for years for the longest time. i accepted the often repeated
narrative that we have police in schools today because parents and teachers were afraid to send their kids back to school after the mass shooting in columbine in 1999, but as i did research for this book, i learned a ton of new stuff one of the things says i should have known this but that the first police in schools appeared in 1939 at the earliest conversation about even the possibility of integration of schools and then police in schools increase exponentially in the civil rights error under the guise of facilitating a safe passage for black and brown students who would integrate those schools, but we know from the historical record and from iconic photographs that far too often traditional law enforcement ended up being an impediment to full meaningful integration of schools now fast forward to 1991 and we have the national association of school resource officers is created eight years before columbine ever happens, right? so that's enough school resource
officers for conventions mission statements training curricula fast forward to 1994 really important. that is when the federal framework for cops in schools was created. that is the federal framework that allowed the federal government to funnel money into states and ultimately locally school systems that would indeed hire police. that's how we've got this radical increase in police in schools. and so then 1999 comes tragedy in columbine happened, and yes, there is again an uptick in funding but where do the police officers get sent the research shows that they get sent to schools with a predominantly black and brown presence. they are not sent in any droves to the suburbs to the sandy hooks to the columbines. they just simply are not so now what we have is all 50 states have some schools with police and schools more police in schools means more arrest in schools more arrest in schools means more arrests of black and brown students, which is what
you are talking about. that's why we walk into schools. they have taken a military grade equipment in many schools. and that's what's at the front door. so when i have this conversation with folks who haven't been in a public school lately. absolutely shocked metal detectors all of the things that you talk about. right? right. yes, so despite the abundant evidence of injustice in our country and injustice in our nation's history. some of my naivete still persists and i was surprised. i was surprised to learn that. that police in schools was as you wrote every brought up a result of the expansion of civil rights movement and integration schools. i was surprised too and it shouldn't have been right. we also mean when you really stop and think about it. but yeah, right. so some of which you write about
in the book is that that there are all these racialized assumptions about black youth that inflame fears of irrational fears and you talk about the police officer who killed tamir rice as living in a country overwhelmed by stereotypes that associate black males with crime and violence. and i agree. the stereotypes are deep. so i'm curious about what you think, you know, it's sort of easy to say that, you know racism and injustice is in our country's dna, which is an obvious truth. but i'm curious about what you think about like how these like very destructive narratives get get sustained get sustained like so for example, i thought a lot about how local crime reporting
in baltimore criminalizes black communities pathologizes black communities criminalizes black men, and so i see the the sort of lured crime reporting on the local tv news in baltimore as well as in the baltimore sun. i see that is really destructive. there's a there's a in baltimore. there's a kind of obsession in the media with with counting murders. it's almost like a fetish and it happens, you know. every time there's a murder and the number of murdered is often compared to the previous years count sometimes compared to the highest years count in 1993. and all this seems like very destructive and also when crime gets covered. it's you know, it's it's rolled out. it's breaking news. and there's all this urgency around it. but in fact, it's often just
like a 30-second clip. it tells the neighborhood it tells like these skeletal facts of like maybe an address maybe the age of a person but nothing that ever contextualizes or humanizes of people involved or affected or the community. so this all seems really destructive i've nattered on here about how i feel like local media is crime reporting. it's like a very destructive force that perpetuates these toxic narratives. i'm curious what you think of our other. other sort of institutions in our country that are perpetuating these these unhealthy myths. yeah. absolutely. i mean media politics politicians who are you know seeking electoral support and what is the number one issue of concern for your constituents? it's always crime right? it's always fear the fear narrative. and so i mean, i think the the really important point for us to
remember is that we've seen this time and time in history whenever we have these temporary upticks and crime right and we're in one right now, right? the immediate default right is the fear narrative drives the agenda instead of research and science about what works. what are the best strategies for public safety and so we think about amanda the perfect narrative example is the super predator error, right? so in the 1990s, we you know, literally our nation lost its mind we bought into the the the pseudoscientific myth put forth by princeton professor john deulio who predicted that black children in particular would run amok and rape maim and kill many of america, right it became the driving narrative in so many ways, right it was in the heart of it had a lot to do with what happened to the now exonerated five and that what drove us. we as a country have to be super
careful not to default to that any time that there's a temporary uptick and crime and particularly as it relates to adolescence what i try to remind folks when we have this conversation that very few young people of any race and any class i'm talking about teenagers are engaged in the type of serious violent fences that were most afraid of what happens is they drive the media the media drives that as the as the narrative when in reality, it's not the other thing that it's really important to remember is that folks forget that they're actually evidence-based community. the responses that are proven to be more effective than severe sentences like life without possible without the possibility of parole. there are more effective responses to even serious adolescent offending then, you know solitary confinement and the trauma to those young people who are essentially particularly black and brown children are treated as if they are literally
beyond redemption, right beyond redemption, and so we think about other high profile examples of i mean, we think about them be quite frank with the crowd think about how rittenhouse right and how that unfolded before us and i got to say the the encounter, you know, cal writtenhouse's behavior was unequivocally quintessential adolescent behavior everything we've been talking about 17 year old child who crosses state lines. he's not thinking right. he's impulsive. he's a following his peers. why does he go because his invite him over they my gun he's not thinking ahead to the long-term consequences. and what happens he gets in over his head and he ends up taking two lives and severely injuring another and then what is he want? he wants you his mother wants you and his lawyers want you to see him as an adolescent who god in over his head and the world agreed and he not only gets a
fair trial. he gets due process and he gets allowed to walk out the door. you have a black child or brown child who gets caught up, you know in the same kind of behavior friends impulsivity not thinking ahead. he gets labeled a game member because he's giving a gun and we create we treat him as completely beyond redemption. so this this is really important the the ways in which we respond in our country to narrative. but then also what's the response even when it is a real offense with serious harm. yeah. thank you for that. so i would be remiss if i didn't ask you a little bit about your writing process. so i really i really admire your style as a writer you. you distill what could be dry legal doctrines and lively language you you humanize the figures that you write about with compassion and restraint and very vivid ways. so i just want to ask you a little bit about your writing process.
so connect. oh, yeah, and i should add there's a hundred and fifteen pages of notes in the back that list do not be intimidated that list your sources. and so, you know, the book is in addition to everything. i just said the book is also exhaustively research so but it shouldn't read like it's exhaustively research it just not so here's here's the deal. i have to confess to you all that when i wrote the book. there's a long time in the making because when i wrote like the first draft my friends who love me they were like, yeah, nobody's gonna read that. because i'm a lawyer. i'm a professor right y'all ever heard of you know published in paris. i went at this as an academic and i really wanted to change hearts and minds with this book. i also really wanted to share the stories the pain and the trauma of black and brown children, and i could not do that with a legal academic text and so my friends would read chapters and they'd be like, yeah chris. i'm gonna need you to rewrite that chapter. and so basically what happened was all the research is there
but then i went back and i layer every single chapter is with stories and narratives. it's stories of the young people that i have represented represented in the nation's capital as well as some of the high profile examples or stories that we've all heard about tamir rice my brown and the like but told in ways that are different than what you normally think about but then i add research and data in plain language that is meant to be accessible both to a legal audience as well as to a mainstream audience, but i left the footnotes in for all of the the lawyers and educators use it right? yeah. so the last chapter of the book ends on optimistic optimistic note and you have some ideas for reform and you have you have reasons for hopefulness, despite everything you've relayed prior to that last chapter. could you talk a little bit about your your optimism? yeah, my optimism unequivocally comes from the young people
themselves, right? so i in the book chapter 12 is called black girl magic and black boy joy the resilience of black adolescents and i talk about the ways in which children of all races in classes and and particularly black children have stepped up and become a voice for change youth activism is absolutely thriving in our country right now. and so that is one way in which i capitalize that and so for those of you who are interested in reading more i started with eric story. i'm going to tell you as a little preview a little teaser i in with eric story and what he's doing and how he's engaging but one is that is is is the resilience of black youth i think the other piece for me is as devastating i think as the season has been right both between the pandemic and between racial tension and you know police tension with the african-american community and other communities of color that this is a moment in our country
more and more people are interested in having this conversation, even though the conversation is hard we get more people in the door people who i did not see originally as traditional allies invite this book and invite me into the space to have this conversation to do trainings with police officers prosecutors judges all of and you know teachers educators because the conversation is is critically important. so i'll stop there. i think those are my two main sources of hope right now. yeah, i got you excellent. so i feel like i'm being given signs that my time asking questions. jamie wright is coming after this. took okay. yeah, yeah. do we have questions from the audience? yes. yes, please.
yes to some mike reach over there. yeah. oh, yeah, the lights are okay. i'm sorry. you can't just hand up. um i'm curious to hear your reaction. to how quickly beautiful meaningful terms like woke and black lives matter were turned into negative talking points by let's say the right. i guess i could include critical race theory and that as well. and how you feel about what seems to be a mastery of messaging on the part of the right. and how essential is it that a deepening of wokeness or empathy among whites?
is necessary for progress? two beautiful questions, i would say i write about your civic engagement or or violence or protests or violence precisely because this is what's so fascinating. you may know this as a i'm sure you know, this is an educator, but that civic engagement is now been heavily promoted in the academic curriculum. we we see value in young people speaking out we want to promote, you know, activism and voice as a part of healthy adolescent development. but as soon as a black or brown child who feels marginalized begins to speak up in whatever ways they know how they become demonized and criminalized right? and here's the other thing that i say so interesting the the title of the book is the rage of innocence and i say among other things i'll say this. it's the the rage that every single one of us should have any time any one child is deprived
of an opportunity to be a child, but in addition to that though, it is also the rage that black and brown children have when they are told over and over again that they are dangerous that they are unwelcome right that they are speaking out of turn right? and so what i say to folks is imagine remember what it's like to be a teenager as teenagers, they don't have the words to articulate the way we do when they're feeling unhappy and they feel the discord. so i say to police officers, you know the office, you know that young teenager isn't going to walk up to you and say mr. officer. i don't appreciate the way you're treating me. no, it doesn't come out like that. it comes out impulsive and reactive so it comes out the way teenager does it's yelling. it might be profanity. it might be cursing you out. it might be whatever it is, but that's their way of protest that's their way and that is not at all. what's happening to be clear with black lives matter or other youth activist organizations,
but my year is we need to be able to engage and embrace both the entire continuum of what it means to speak out and assert oneself and i say that young black and brown children. they any person any child with an ounce of self-esteem with the ounce of self-worth should be speaking out at a moment like this right and we should be honoring that but yet we don't and i think it absolutely is. it's an absolute messaging right? it's a flipping of the narrative in ways that are that are that are harmful and yes, we need every ally i like to call them ally accomplices every single accomplice that we can get to engage with young people. so thank you. i know those question here. thank you. so first of all, i just want to say i was really excited to hear about this topic. i used to teach in a detention center in dc and it's all black
and brown never saw a single white kid. so just want to point that out for everyone, but my question is is there any research on? colorism and implicit bias, so particularly, you know darker skin children being targeted more so than lighter skin. it's just in my personal experience. i've seen that but i wanted to know if there's any research on that. yeah, so that's interesting. so, let me just add to this when i said earlier that i have been representing children in the nation's capital for 26 years in that entire 26 years you all i have only represented four white children every other child i have represented in dc superior court has been african-american we should all gasp at that. we should be appalled by that. we are all close enough to washington dc to know that there are plenty of white children in dc and plenty of white children who are impulsive reactive emotional all the things that lead to delinquent behavior. so every person you talk to in dc says it is exact same thing and it's really the raw numbers
look different across the country. but the percentages the ratios are the same. so this question about colorism. there is a lot of reasons a lot more research on colorism in the adult criminal legal space than in the in the child space. there are a few pieces and they're interestingly enough also often in the school discipline context that what you'll see is that darker skin students face harsher discipline in the school system, then then lighters can children, but it's it's a fascinating right? it's and it dates back right historically in our country, you know, it's not just you know, you know, how much african american or blackness in your bloodstream? it's also the color of your skin that is more frightening. so thank you for that question. i think we had one more. thank you so much for your presentation. i'm in public health and we do racial equity in public health. i want to ask you how do you keep engaging self-care and keep?
a sense of love for others in doing this work. i was reading because mr. wilkinson book cast and i had to put it down. i think i can't go to work working with white people in read this book. i'm gonna have such a hanger in rage. so how do you as a person of color understand that not everybody not everybody is doing the work of racism that are harsh and and we need our lives and accomplices. but how do you keep yourself here in your sense of love and justice as you do this word? absolutely. i could ask this question all the time because i teach i do a lot of workshops around implicit bias and i say here's my answer faith family friends fun and finding your tribe and and here's the thing i use the word grace all the time when i am talking about bias racial bias explicit and and implicit um largely because to be quite frank with you people grow up their communities and in this country.
free having heard these narratives that have been perpetuated for for a lifetime right and if they're never had the opportunity aren't exposed right to to the enlightened woke, you know, then sometimes they get stuck in those ways and so i have to approach people where they are meet them where they are and like you know what they didn't come out of the womb, you know as with racist ideology, right? it was taught to them it it's a learned experience for me. i remember that and i remind myself that time and time again in terms of finding my tribe. look there are wonderful. wonderful people who care about this work and who care about the health and the well-being of all children black brown blue green, and so i associate myself with them and you know when i go and i do trainings and i do workshops for folks who who don't agree with me, you know, i cry a lot. you know, i cry at night, but then i you know get up and i, you know vent to friends my allies my accomplices.
who get it? right and so, you know there are days when i just can't take it and i just take a day off but by and large my word is grace. it's just absolute grace to do the work. a professor henning. thank you so much for being here today adam. thank you for joining us for this very important conversation. thank you so much. thank you.