Youth Justice, Black Children and Young Men in Liverpool: A Story of Rac(ism), Identity and Contested Spaces

Wainwright, John Peter orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8190-0144, Robertson, Laura, Larkins, Cath orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2999-6916 and Mckeown, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0235-1923 (2020) Youth Justice, Black Children and Young Men in Liverpool: A Story of Rac(ism), Identity and Contested Spaces. Genealogy, 4 (2). e57.

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This study explores the experiences of the black children and young men that attended a Youth Offending Team (YOT) in Liverpool, a city in the North of England, UK. It focuses on the perspectives of both the YOT practitioners and the black children/young men as they develop working relationships with each other. Through this two-way prism the back children/young men reflect on what is important to them before and after they enter the criminal justice system. Likewise, the YOT practitioners provide their understanding of the key issues in the young people’s lives—in particular, how the black children/young men made sense of their lives in Liverpool with a particular identity with place, space, class and race. A genealogy of race/class prism, along with an intersectional and appreciative inquiry methodology, was employed that encouraged the youth justice workers and young black men to explore the strengths and realities of their lives. Focus groups were undertaken with seven YOT practitioners and managers, along with semi-structured interviews with five black children/young men. The methodology focused on points of intersection of power, difference and identity. Findings that emerged from the participants included the experience of racism within the criminal justice system, the community and the wider city, along with the importance of education, employment and relations with the young people’s family. A core theme was an identity of black children/young men from a specific region. This intersection was as Scousers, black boys/young men, the contestation over space and their negotiated identity regarding race. The ambivalence and (un)certainty that these identities evoked provide possibilities for youth justice practitioners engaging with young black men involved in serious and repeat offending.

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