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Session 280: The Criminalization of Black Youth

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

If you’re joining us in the United States, our local elections are right around the corner. A time to advocate for what we believe in and call for reform in this country, a political right many Black women fought for in the past and continue to fight  for today. For some of us, the ballots will include options to promote criminal justice reform and, more specifically, police reform. The history of police activity within the Black American community is lengthy and muddled with trauma. Yet, one facet of that history that is too often overlooked is the police’s history with Black children.

This week I’m joined by Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law and former Lead Attorney of the Juvenile Unit at the D.C. Public Defender Service, Kristin Henning. We discussed the narrative that exists around fearing Black children, how Black children are criminalized for adolescent behavior, how over-policing impacts mental health and identify formation, and how public health approaches in schools and within our communities can remove the footprint of police in the everyday lives of Black children.


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Session 280: The Criminalization of Black Youth

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 280 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into our conversation after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: If you're joining us in the United States, our local elections are right around the corner. A time to advocate for what we believe in and call for reform in this country. A political right many black women fought for in the past and continue to fight for today. For some of us, the ballots will include options to promote criminal justice reform and, more specifically, police reform. The history of police activity within the Black American community is lengthy and muddled with trauma. Yet one facet of that history that is too often overlooked is the police's history with black children. This week, I'm joined by Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law, and former Lead Attorney of the Juvenile Unit at the D.C. Public Defender Service, Kristin Henning.

Our conversation explores the narrative that exists around fearing black children, how black children are criminalized for every aspect of their adolescent behaviors, how over policing impacts their mental health and identity formation, and how public health approaches in schools and within our communities can remove the footprint of police in the everyday lives of black children. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kristin.

Kristin: Thank you so much for having me. Looking forward to this conversation.

Dr. Joy: Likewise. Can you get us started by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got into the work that you currently do?

Kristin: Absolutely. I am currently a professor at Georgetown Law School and I am the director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative. In my office, we represent children who have been accused of crime in the nation's capital. In addition to that, we do a broad array of racial justice work. Our mission is to reduce racial disparities and to confront racial bias and racial injustice in the juvenile legal system. We do that from a number of ways, from trainings to resource development, writing. We testify in various fora, such as City Council hearings or state legislative bodies. It's a pretty broad array. We might write briefs, legal briefs in various cases across the country as a friend of the court briefs. That's what I do now.

I came into this work, into this passion for youth justice, and particularly youth justice around black and brown children, because I grew up in a family full of teachers and preachers, all of whom were outspoken about children and the health and the wellbeing of children. I think really by osmosis, I just sort of grew into the work. And then when I was in undergrad, I had an opportunity in Durham, North Carolina, to volunteer as an apprentice in a juvenile court. And I will tell you, Dr. Joy that I will never forget the first day I walked into that court building and I am on my way to find the local prosecutor. And on my way to the juvenile courtroom, I see a line of children chained together by their arms and by their legs. As you can imagine, there were predominantly black and Latino boys in that line and I was blown away, truly blown away. I had no idea, in contemporary America, that we shackled children by their legs and by their feet, rather ankles. For me, I stopped dead in my tracks. I went into that courtroom, and I remember sitting with the prosecutor and pointing across the room, saying I want to be over there. I want to be over there with the children. That's when I knew I wanted to be a defense attorney, representing children. That was from my freshman year in college that I found that passion and then I pursued it ever since.

Dr. Joy: That feels like a very powerful experience to have so early in your career, the career that hadn't even started yet. Tell me what it was like to then chart your path from that experience freshman year through law school and any other training that you've done. Like what did those steps look like?

Kristin: Since I knew that I had this passion for kids, and I definitely came into this space with a passion for kids... I didn't know what form it would take, but what it meant for me being an African American student in Durham, North Carolina, I was at Duke but I was so deeply embedded in the community. So we were volunteering at local recreation facilities, working with at risk youth. We talk about them in much more powerful terms today, but young children who were from low-income neighborhoods. We were working with youth advocacy organizations any time we had that opportunity. That's very much the way my undergrad career looked like. I was an English major and an African American Studies major, and then volunteering in the community.

And then when I went to law school, I went to law schools that had a clinical program, meaning an opportunity for law students to work with folks in the community. I was looking for law schools that had that opportunity and that's what I found. I went to law school and I started from my first years, all three years in law school, taking part in clinical courses, special ed clinics. Representing kids in special education proceedings, I represented kids in abuse and neglect proceedings. And then in my third year of law school, I said I really want to represent kids who are in the delinquency system, the kids that adults have given up on. And so we started a brand new clinic when I was in third year of law school. From there, I graduated from law school and moved to Washington, D.C. and I've really been here pretty much ever since and representing kids in different capacities. I was at the D.C. Public Defender Service, supervising the juvenile unit there for a while, and then I came to Georgetown. And so I've done it in a number of different varieties but I've always represented kids in court, no matter what else I'm doing—policy work, training work, I always want to represent the kids.

Dr. Joy: What an incredible track record, and you have been doing this for more than 25 years now. Can you talk to me about some of the patterns maybe that you’ve recognized between race and kids and policing?

Kristin: You’ve nailed it. This notion of me having represented children for 25 years, at this point now it's 26 years. In that entire time, I have only represented four white children. Everybody listening to this podcast should be shocked. Because maybe if you don't live in the nation's capital, you might be thinking that there are no white kids here. Or you might be thinking that white kids don't commit crime. But neither one of those would be true. This is a city with plenty of white children, and all kids of all races are engaged in the same type of impulsive, reactive, sensation seeking, risk taking types of behavior that we all did when we were kids. And so white kids commit crime, yet I live in a city where virtually all of my clients for 26 years are African American. That's the most important pattern that I see.

The other pattern that I see is when I talk about the arrest, prosecution, and detention of children across the country, people automatically assume that I must be talking about serious violent offenses. But the reality is that the vast majority of children are in our nation's juvenile courts for normal adolescent behaviors, all of those things that we did when we were kids or that our own kids are doing. And so I often ask people, think about what did you care about when you were a kid? What did you care about as a teenager? And it's the clothes that you wore, the music that you listened to, the parties that you got invited to, who you got to sit with in the cafeteria, the risky activity you got to do. And if you take any one of those threads, you will see that black children are criminalized for every aspect of adolescent behaviors, every key feature of adolescent behavior.

The music. We think about country, heavy metal, pop, rock music, all of them have misogynistic themes, profanity, glorifying drugs, sex, music. And all of those genres exist without consequence. But yet, hip hop or rap music listened to by black children is treated as if it's the most dangerous music alive. Black kids in a cafeteria hanging out together, dressing alike, are perceived as gangs instead of just friends like white kids. I could go on and on, but those are the ways in which you see black children just criminalized for being kids.

Dr. Joy: Kristin, when I think about D.C., I think about a city that is predominantly black and so I would imagine that the police force is also predominantly black. And so when you think about the nuances of culture and the things that we know about, like how we show up in the world that may be different from other communities, my assumption would be that black people would understand black kids sitting together and dressing together is just kind of maybe a thing that we do. Yet you are still saying that even with a majority black police force, there is still this over criminalization of what is typical childhood behavior. Can you help us make sense of what is exactly happening there?

Kristin: Absolutely. There are indeed plenty of black officers in Washington D.C., and you still see the same cultural phenomena of criminalization of normal adolescent behaviors. And the reality is that we have all been complicit in the narrative of fear that has been passed down from generation to generation about black children. That narrative started in some very intentional ways as a means of controlling black children, as a means of limiting opportunity and resources for black children. You have to, when we think about the Civil Rights era and you're talking about the possibility of racially integrating schools, you've got to put forth a narrative that black children are dangerous, that black children are sexually violent. This is the narrative that's intentionally put forth that then becomes so ingrained in society that it becomes a part of the American psyche as a subconscious reality that we have all bought into, become complicit to, without even realizing it. And that means black folks.

Often, when I talk about the over policing and the hyper surveillance of black children, I'm not just talking about by police officers in a blue uniform, but by all of us. So that when we walk through a park and we see a group of black kids or we see one black child in a hoodie, we're automatically afraid and we're thinking about calling 911. That's because of the ways in which racial bias has so permeated the narrative about black children that we're all afraid of them. I think that's a huge piece of why you see, even in a city where there have been black mayors and black police chiefs and black heads of the local school system, that you still see this sort of criminalization of black children.

The other thing I think that's a part and parcel of that is the ways in which we, as a society, including in D.C., allocate resources. We have bought into this idea that the only way to keep society safe is through policing. We put all of our money in policing, more money in policing than we do in counselors. More money in policing than we do in teachers, more money than we do in policing than we do in mental health services for young kids who have been traumatized by all that’s going on in society. There are so many factors that play into how I can live in a city that used to be (at least, anyway) called the Chocolate City. That's fading away with all the gentrification, but how you can still have so much criminalization.

Dr. Joy: Can you talk a little bit more, Kristin, about some of the practices of policing that you feel like are especially discriminatory against black children?

Kristin: One of the practices that we see across the country is really the hyper surveillance and aggressive stopping and frisking of black children. When you interview many black children in certain pockets of our society, you hear that black children see police officers multiple times a day, often. Certainly more than once a month, more than once a week—many kids see police officers every day and multiple times a day. Police officers are often asking them, where are you coming from? Where are you going? They are asking young black children to lift their shirts, and what the officers want to do is they want to see whether or not this black child is carrying a weapon in their waistband. Black children are often stopped and frisked on very, very vague description. There might be a report of a robbery for a black male wearing blue jeans and you will see a group of black males stopped and frisked as a result of that very vague stub. So I think so many of us in society take it for granted that we can live in our own neighborhoods and walk about our streets and go to school and not have to encounter law enforcement. But that's just so not true for so many black and brown children.

That's one of the practices, the stopping and frisking and the hyper surveillance. Another practice is just police in schools. Like when I went to school, I was able to walk in and out of the front door. Now, so many black children across the country walk into the front door of school and they feel like they're entering a space that's a prison. Have to walk through metal detectors or watched throughout the day on surveillance cameras. It often becomes a controversial topic. People want to say, Kris, we have to keep kids safe. But the research shows us that the best way to keep kids safe is through a public health strategy for school safety, which we can talk about. It's not about hyper surveillance, it's not about making the kids feel like they're in secure detention when they go to school.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Kristin after the break.


Dr. Joy: Kristin, I would like to hear about this public health approach, and I also want to hear why you think it is... And probably I'm guessing some of it is this narrative that you've already talked about that has kind of been forced on us for years and that many of us have bought into. But when all of this research exists about how to actually keep kids safe, why do you think that there is still this over reliance on the narrative that policing is the only thing that can keep kids safe? And talk to us more about that public health approach.

Kristin: It's a great question. I think that the law enforcement response is the politically expedient response. It's the quickest way for politicians to get votes. People are afraid, I get it. Like I don't want to be the victim of crime either. I have been the victim of crime, I worry, too. And so we want an immediate response. What's the quickest response? Is to have police officers show up and show up in their blue uniforms and their weapons and you feel safer. But the research shows that over policing actually increases stress and anxiety among young people, which in turn leads to delinquent behaviors, the very thing that we're seeking to avoid. People don't seem to realize. I think part of it is people don't do the research and it's part of the reason why I wrote the book The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. To get folks to see some of this research in plain language, everyday language, what really works. So I think that's part of it. It's politically expedient, folks aren't doing the research and they want the quick answer.

What is it that works? What works requires time and investment and trial and error. But proven best practices include a public health approach to school safety and to community safety that is deeply rooted in healthy relationships and mentoring between adults and children. It's about trauma informed responses to all that our children are dealing with today. In a pandemic world, in a world full of racial tension, in a world full of political upheaval. These kids are watching it, so you’ve got to have a trauma informed response. We also need a restorative justice framework. A restorative framework is one that recognizes that conflict exists and seeks to repair a breach in relationships. But even proactively seeks to teach empathy, social emotional learning, as a part of the academic curriculum for young people. A public health approach to safety is also one that is racially equitable, that recognizes that adolescents are just children and that we need to have racially equitable responses to adolescent normal misbehavior.

On an even more practical level, those are the sort of broad themes of a public health approach. But it means, in a very practical way, it means a continuum of mental health services in the school and in the community, it means vocational opportunity, smaller classes, that social emotional learning that I talked about. It means mentoring, it means, even where there's real evidence of real crime in the community, it's about having violence interrupters and credible messengers go in and navigate those spaces to reunify and restore communities. That's what is proven. Those are the kinds of strategies writ large that are proven to work.

Dr. Joy: I'm sure you saw this. I saw a clip I feel like a couple of months ago, and I feel like it was maybe a school in Texas where like there's a patrol of dads who are the people. Like they are the credible adults that the kids talk to, that are in the school instead of policing. And so it sounds like that's kind of what you're talking about.

Kristin: Absolutely. I don't need to show up with a gun, I don't need to show up with my handcuffs ready to arrest you, I don't need to increase the anxiety associated with police violence. And I say this all the time, police officers have to recognize that the blue uniform carries with it the entire history of race relations in America. So even if this one officer is Officer Friendly and means well, he's got to recognize or she's got to recognize that still it's a source of trauma, it's a source of anxiety for young people. And instead, let's have a dad. Fund that instead, give money to that. Or other young people who have been down the wrong path but got themselves together and can be role models, have them come in and navigate violence and reduce tension in the school system. That's what works.

Dr. Joy: You've talked about this a little bit, Kristin, but I'd love to hear more thoughts around, you’ve mentioned how these repeated interactions with police can lead to things like stress and anxiety. Can you say more about how these interactions also impact how young black people feel about themselves, and their mental health?

Kristin: There is a growing body of research, right there for the taking, growing body of research documenting the extraordinary psychological trauma that policing imposes on black and brown children in one of the most important stages of their development, those adolescent years. The research shows that young black and Latino youth who have been the target of significant stops and frisks or who live in heavily surveilled neighborhoods report high rates of fear, anxiety, depression. They become hyper vigilant, which just means that they're always on guard. And they're not trusting police officers. And that distrust for police officers transfers over to other adult authority figures like teachers, counselors, principals, folks in the school system or in the community.

What's so powerful about the research is that it shows that young people experience this trauma even when they are not the direct target of police contact. Even hearing about it from friends, family, or someone that they're close to, can produce that same level of traumatic experience for them. Or watching the killing of George Floyd on television. And I say to folks all the time, remember where you were when you watched that video and think about how painful it was for you (it certainly was for me) and then think about how much more painful it must be for a young black or brown child who realizes this could happen to me. How much more tragic is that? And so it has an extraordinary impact on the mental health and the wellbeing of black children. The same body of research has also looked at the ways in which policing impacts identity development. And by that, it's a fancy way of saying how it is that black children come to see themselves, who they are, who they can be, and how they fit into the world. Young people who have negative or degrading experiences or observe negative and degrading experiences by police began to sort of question the legitimacy of law and law enforcement, but they also began to doubt who they are. Why is it that we are so targeted? It’s an extraordinary impact on the identity, the basic fundamental identity formation for black children.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Kristin after the break.


Dr. Joy: What is our path forward, Kristin? I know you covered a lot of this in the book, but how do we begin to right this? Like what are some of the steps that we can take as parents, as educators, as school administrators, to kind of turn some of this around?

Kristin: Everyone has a role to play, I always say that, from whatever seat you sit. For black parents, it's really this very delicate tightrope of walking the line on the one hand of preparing our children for those inevitable moments of discrimination. They're going to happen. So we prepare our children with the talk, for example. Like when you see a police officer, put your hands up, don't make any sudden movements, say “yes, sir/no, sir,” do whatever you can do to get home safe. We prepare them for that. We prepare them for the possibility of discrimination in the convenience store and in the school house. But at the same time, we also have to be careful about over preparing our children so that they don't live and walk through life with anxiety, always fearing. And also not over preparing them such that they begin to believe that there are no allies who don't look like us. Because indeed, we live in a multicultural society and many of the opportunities in society are integrated opportunities and so our children have to be ready to be fluid, sort of do some of that code switching.

Actually, I want to be really careful about that because I talk about empowering or teaching our kids how to code switch from one environment to another but empowering them to make a choice about whether to code switch or whether to be themselves. Because code switching can be traumatic if it's imposed with like respectability politics. Like the only way to succeed in life is through playing the game, playing the minstrel. That's not what we want for our kids either, but it's about teaching kids about what the options are and what the opportunities are, what they might confront. I think that's a piece of it for black parents.

I think the other piece for black parents is creating space for these conversations. What is it? We as parents have learned as adults how to navigate the society with our own sort of coping mechanisms, our own strategies, but it's about asking kids, how do they feel at school? How do they feel walking in the front door? George Floyd happens, let's sit down and let's go for a walk and talk about how did you feel when you saw George Floyd? Or are people at school talking about George Floyd and how does that make you feel? We've got to create space for our kids to have these conversations. And then what do other people do? What else can we do? I think we, as a community, we've got to get out front on these issues. That means we've got to understand what's happening, for example, in local politics, local elections. Who's running for the local prosecutor's office? Who's running for that elected judge position in juvenile court? Being attentive to some of that.

It's also about figuring out ways in which we as a community can be clear and lobby for a radical reduction in the footprint of police in the lives of black children. So that means how do we join school board meetings and advocate for police-free schools? And that's not as radical as it sounds, actually. It's not saying that we won't have police in those circumstances where we really need them. Police officers are located in the community, they can get there fast. Evidence has shown that policing doesn't prevent crime; it's reactive, it responds to crime. We need to put in place, we need to be lobbying for dollars in the school system, to reallocate dollars from heavy policing into all those public health strategies that we talked about. Those are some of the things. We need to be funding parks and recreation—people don't think about that. That’s huge. Think about Tamir Rice. Like funding a park and recreation system that allows kids to be kids and that allows kids to play. There are so many things that we could be advocating for. You’ve got to educate yourselves and then get out front and be a voice. And partner with young people, hear from them, what is it that's bothering you at school? And they have great ideas. What can be changed at school? What do you need at school? And then go out front and lobby for that.

Dr. Joy: It also feels like there are some special things that maybe educators and maybe mental health professionals need to know, about how to actually be good resources. When you think about who are the people in your schools who you think about to help, you think like the teachers and the counselors. So what kinds of things do teachers and mental health professionals need to know or maybe get involved with to also cut down on some of this?

Kristin: I think one of the things for mental health professionals... Really, honestly, in writing the book The Rage of Innocence, I began to learn from psychologists, developmental psychologists, about what kids need. And I think we are getting better about recognizing the importance of talking about mental health services and dealing with trauma for young people, but we still have not gotten to a place where we understand that policing is in some ways a source of trauma. And so that needs to become a part of the continuum of resources that are being provided by mental health professionals. Also, racial trauma. That our children are experiencing moments and encounters with discrimination in their school and at work, at recreation, in health care, every aspect of their lives. And so we need to be attentive to providing that level of mental health services within the mental health framework. We also need more mental health providers—psychologists, therapists, counselors—who look like us and who have lived experiences like the children that we're talking about. I think that's one real call to action.

And I think for teachers, it's creating space in your classrooms or in after school activities or in leadership spaces. Like creating leadership and advocacy opportunities for students to talk about reform. People often ask me this question, like what do we need to be doing? One of the things I say, if you want to make the world a better place for black children, ask them. So getting them to the table and I think it's a wonderful learning opportunity. Whether you teach writing skills... Empowering black kids with an opportunity to learn writing by writing about what they want changed. What advocacy agenda do they want to put forth is a wonderful thing to write about. So classes are about public speaking, thinking about how to give kids an opportunity to do public speaking around reform and around advocacy. I think that's true for all the classes. Even in math class—thinking about great black mathematicians, great black scientist, as a part of that core learning. And what the research has shown is that black history, black pride, black achievement, becomes a buffer in a lot of ways to all of the negative labeling that is being done or put upon black children. In every space, a teacher should be open to engage around black history.

I think the final piece of advice, and my heart goes out to teachers who are under resourced. Teachers often default themselves to traditional law enforcement responses. Kid acts up in class, they call the front office and who does the front office send? They send the school resource officer down. And so I think teachers, as a community, continue to get educated around what works (public health strategies that work) and go to their school boards, to their school administrators, and lobby for what works. And be willing to go through some trial and error while we reduce the number of police in schools, I think is really important.

One other thing for teachers is remembering what it was like to be a kid. Again, my heart goes out to teachers. It's easy to get jaded when your class is too big and kids are being kids, but you got to remember that our racial biases calls us to perceive normal adolescent acting out as aggressive, as violent, as threatening, and more threatening than it actually is. Adolescent aggressive speech is often just that. Remember when you threw a tantrum? Remember when you said, “I hate you, mom?” Remember when you refused to do what you were supposed to do because you were having a really, really, really bad day or really bad traumatic experience at home? It's hard for teachers. We need to give them support and resources, but teachers also have to remember that black kids are black kids, too.

Dr. Joy: Even with the mental health system. I think you're right in terms of like the expansion of therapists and services, but I think it's also important to think about how mental health has often been tied to policing. So when we notice that a client needs a higher level of care, that often involves like a police escort to a hospital. Can you talk about any models that you've seen for more community mental health kinds of things where police are not actually involved if someone does need a higher level of care?

Kristin: You know, we are still collecting some of that. But some of the examples that we have seen is a program for example, out in Oregon, Portland, called CAHOOTS. The idea is that you call 911 for services, but that 911 Caller does triage. Or you can call another number, 411, if you know that this shouldn't involve police. The idea here is if someone is in a drug crisis or a mental health crisis, those are the responses that require medical intervention and not police intervention. And so it's having some intermediary that is triaging calls and sending out the right resource. So you would send out a mobile mental health or a crisis intervention van to that location instead of police to that location. That's an example out of Portland.

A number of schools are also doing crisis mobile mental health services so that when a child is in crisis, the mental health van comes. And again, they don't have to be dressed with the big label “Mental Health Services.” You come in and you come in in your casual clothes and you de-escalate. Those de-escalation strategies are really, really important. Another thing that we are seeing is less a program, but training. There are some but not nearly enough, very small percentage of police departments who are getting de-escalation training in adolescent development. That's really important. We need to see more of that. There's an organization called Strategies for Youth that has offered and developed a Policing the Teen Brain curriculum. That is important. Those are some ideas, but we need more and more of that.

Dr. Joy: You talked already a little bit about the book, Kristin, so I would love to hear, what was the inspiration for the title of the book, The Rage of Innocence?

Kristin: When I think about the rage of innocence, I am on a global level thinking about the rage that every single one of us should have any time any one child is deprived of an opportunity to be a child. That's the rage of innocence. But at the same time, it also has more subtle, nuanced meanings. The rage is also the rage that black children have when they are told over and over again that they are a criminal, that they are dangerous, that they are a threat. And I say all the time that anybody, any self-respecting person with an ounce of dignity and self-worth, should resist those labels. So they naturally push back on those labels. And they're teenagers, right? And we've already talked about what teenagers are: impulsive, emotional, reactive, they're fairness fanatics. They're not likely to say, “Mr. Officer, I don't like the way you're treating me today.” Instead, they talk like teenagers, and they sound loud, and they sound aggressive. That's what they do. That's the rage and that's the rage that we are working on.

Dr. Joy: What do you want readers to walk away with after reading Rage of Innocence?

Kristin: I want more than anything, I want readers to see themselves in the stories that I tell. In The Rage of Innocence, I pull together stories about my own clients that I've represented in Washington, D.C. The ways in which they've been criminalized, traumatized, dehumanized, treated as if they are beyond redemption even when they do make a mistake. And I marry those stories with other high-profile stories, many of which you all have heard about. Stories about Tamir Rice and Mike Brown and Jeremiah Harvey. But I weave those stories together with the data and the research. Research that is plain language, accessible to everyone, that helps us understand why this phenomenon is happening, what we can do to address the phenomena. I want folks to walk away seeing themselves in the stories. Seeing themselves when they were children, seeing their kids in these stories, and remembering that children are children, too. That's a critical piece of shifting their narrative. I want people to walk away with a call to action, and there are multiple calls to action. I titled chapter 12 of the book #BlackBoyJoy and #BlackGirlMagic. And it's all about the ways in which we can foster resilience in black children who have been criminalized and demonized in so many of these ways. And I offer up suggestions for teachers and parents and police and city lawmakers, mental health providers, churches. Everybody has a role to play in shifting that narrative and reducing the footprint of police in the lives of black and brown children.

Dr. Joy: Love it. Thank you so much for that, Kristin. Where can we stay connected with you? What is your website as well as any social media handles you'd like to share?

Kristin: I can be found at It will link you to the book, it will link you to any speaking opportunities, it links you back to Georgetown. You can google Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic Kristin Henning, and pull up our racial justice portfolio. You can see all of the work that we're doing in the legal space. I am on Twitter and IG @ProfKrisHenning. Also on Facebook as Prof. Khris Henning. So I'm easy to find, I'm only a google away. You can get my book The Rage of Innocence everywhere books are sold. Independent bookstores as well as Reach out, I look forward to hearing from you and engaging more with your community.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much, Kristin, we'll be sure to include all of that in the show notes. Thank you for spending some time with us today.

Kristin: Thank you so much for having me and for having this podcast and these conversations.

Dr. Joy: You're welcome. I'm so glad Kristin was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to visit the show notes at And don't forget to text two of your girls and tell them to check out the episode right now. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, check out our therapist directory at And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here