Joshua Tapia

Racialized Consent

My research question asks how race affects the courts’ perception of underaged sexual actors’ knowledge of the alleged act? In other words, I am looking at how race shapes the perception of maturity of an adolescent and thus their ability to consent in a court case. More specifically, the project will examine court cases where judges decide on whether juveniles based on their race had the capacity to provide consent in sexual relationships. Past research has demonstrated how courts perceived adults’ sexual/romantic relationships with youth based on the their racial identity. Yet, little to no research has been conducted on how adolescents’ race plays a role in how their age is perceived and thus how their maturity is perceived by the courts. While courts punish adolescent sexuality by enforcing the age of consent, they also hyper-penalize racialdifference. By conducting a historical analysis of legal cases of age of consent with intersecting identities of race and age, I will expose the differences in legal treatment when courts handle adolescent sexuality.