Drawing from Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, this essay uncovers the ontological eradication of “black child” in institutions of school and juvenile justice. This eradication is rooted in sexualized violence and the ungenderings of black children. Yet such institutions are ostensible forms of “care.” They hold black children’s bodies. Their metrics hold black children to standards of whiteness. They hold black children as their representational property. Black children become the “meager” representations of school failure and also the ghostly referent for inequalities facing nonblack children. Poor, disabled, English-language learners and students of color are, generally, more often talked about as suffering “like” black children. Black children are both the spectacle and the specters of educational discourse and juvenile justice. In contrast to “care” and the “hold,” Sharpe positions black people engaged in “wake work” as (be)holding relations, provoking us to consider how we (be)hold black children in the wake of antiblack juvenile institutions.

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