CARDI B’s CHAUVINIST COMEBACK AT JERMAINE DUPRI

by Donald “C-Note” Hooker

I have had the luxury of 20/20 hindsight after reading the Autobiography of Angela Davis and Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, by Elaine Brown. It was these memoirs that exposed my mind to the Black woman’s perspective. That the Black woman who was in the struggle with the Black man, was not seen as bringing anything of concrete value, other than sit up, listen, and grab a sign. Her mind, her genius, from the Black male to the Black female was not being utilized. Recently, Jermaine Dupri commented that all the female rappers rap about the same subject matter and are basically stripper rappers. I found it highly fascinating to hear Cardi B’s perspective to Jermaine Dupri’s statement. Cardi B pleads this isn’t her fault. She tried conscious content and knows other sisters that are doing it, but there is no support for it, either from Hip Hop journalist or bloggers, nor is there a commercial market. Her story is that the industry and the public doesn’t want this kind of lyrical content. This is where Cardi B’s response gets Jermaine Dupri in trouble.

Jermaine Dupri is not the paradigm of conscious content. He built a successful music career from mindless, cotton candy, devoid of any substantive thinking music. He was working in the same lyrical spaces as the very female rappers he decided to comment on. Currently, I am taking an undergraduate course in the history of Rock and Roll. Part of the curriculum is to do a lyrical research paper. The assignment requires a compare and contrast of lyrics from three to five different artists and songs. I chose five songs that the word “Jump” was a part of the chrous. The five songs included, The Sugarhill Gang’s, 1980, Apache (Jump on It); Aretha Franklin’s 1982, Jump to It; The Pointer Sister’s 1984, Jump (For My Love); Van Halen’s 1984, Jump; and Kris Kross’s 1992, Jump. Of these Works, only the women did I find any lyrical substance. If The Pointer Sister’s lyrics was the orgasm, Aretha’s was the foreplay. As far as the gentlemen were concerned, the most egregious violator of lacking substance was the Jermaine Dupri produced group Kris Kross.

In March of 2018, the PBS program Front and Center featured musician, singer, and songwriter, Nile Rogers. For those who do not know who Rogers is, it is said, he and his songwriting partner Bernard Edwards, fueled the Disco era with their band Chic and kicked off the Hip Hop era when The Sugarhill Gang rapped over their record Good Times. Their song, We Are Family, recorded by Sister Sledge, was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.” They produced Diana Ross biggest selling album Diana in 1980. They produced David Bowie’s biggest single Let’s Dance. And produced Madonna’s greatest selling single Like a Virgin. Despite his collaborating partner’s passing in 1996, Rogers teamed up with Pharrell and Daft Punk and released the 2013 Get Lucky. The single reached the top 10 in the music charts in over 32 countries and is one of the biggest selling songs of all time. Rogers is accredited with selling over 500 million albums and 75 million singles. On Front and Center, Roger recalls the time he was venting to his mentor, Jazz musician Ted Dunbar regarding playing top 40 hits at a club.
Dunbar was perplexed at Rogers vexations, telling Rodgers that the music did not belong to him but the public, and any record that makes it into the top 40 is an excellent composition. Rodgers was taught and trained in classical music and grew up in the world of Jazz. Having came from the world of Classical and Jazz, Rogers had a certain bias against Pop’s top 40 as being lowbrow music. He was told by his mentor, if a record moves people and is commercially successful it is a great composition. How many artist would cut their right arm for a one-hit wonder? From that point on, Rogers never looked at Popular music in such a highbrow way. I tell this story, because ever since I heard this from Rogers, I no longer do a highbrow analysis on lyrical content. Especially if it is commercially successful.

Anybody who is truly African-American, is aware of our internal tension between Street culture and nonadherance to that culture. Street culture is antithetical to the type of behavior earlier generations thought was necessary in order for African Americans to be accepted into American society. In music, this was exemplified by Motown’s showmanship . On TV, it was the Huxtable family on The Cosby Show. Street culture is highly frowned upon in the African-American community. It was well-known, Oprah Winfrey was not going to allow rappers on her show. They are seen as pedaling poison. Ice Cube is famous for stating he wasn’t going to allow his children to hear his music, yet after making such statements of being conscious of their harmful affects, he has never changed his lyrical content. I watched Warren G be highly critical of today’s rappers, stating in his era we did not rap about drugs, all they rap about nowadays are drugs. How many plots and schemes were hatched while under the influence of Warren G’s Regulators? I know I am one of them, it was a very, very, powerful song, about running your turf. We who have cut our teeth, and made our living in Street culture are the epitome of the Jesus Christ challenge, “He who has not sinned, cast the first stone.” What makes Brother Dupri’s statements appear to be chauvinistic, is his reputation for being a ferocious patron of strip clubs. While it’s okay to see a sista get money with her body, the moment she steps out of that place and is getting money with her mind, is being rewarded for her thoughts, and her ideas, this type of behavior is being delegitimized. We who come from this culture, Street culture; a culture where we are to embarrassed to tell our grandmother or mother what we’re doing; a culture that we want to shield our youngest children; are in no position to be hypocritical nor critical of how the poison being distributed by one person involved in this culture, is a higherbrowed poison from the next person’s poison. The African-American Community has a moral compass. When you are involved in a behavior that you would not feel comfortable telling your grandmother, or will want to steer your children from, those of us that have chosen to use this as a vehicle to find our place in the world; we need to drop the putting on airs, because we are certainly no better than anybody else working this thang, called Street culture.

This is our fourth published piece by this writer on feminism, the other three were:

“THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN VOICES IN STRUGGLE: Emphasis on the Black Woman’s Voice.” 2017
https://mprisondthotz.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/the-importance-of-women-voices-in-struggle-emphasis-on-the-black-womans-voice/

“The Myth of Intersectionality to Women of Color” 2018
https://mprisondthotz.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-myth-of-intersectionality-to-women-of-color/

“Due Process in the Era of Me Too” 2018
https://mprisondthotz.wordpress.com/2018/10/11/due-process-in-the-era-of-me-too/

[C-Note has written for Prison Action News, California Prison Focus, and has been in People Magazine, Public Television-Los Angeles (KCET), and ABC-Los Angeles (KABC). He is a native of Los Angeles, poet, playwright, performing artist, award winning visual artist, and King of Prison Hip Hop. His works have either been exhibited, recited, performed, or sold, from Alcatraz to Berlin. In 2017, Google Search Engines listed him first in results, as America’s and the world’s most prolific prisoner-artist.]

Insanity is Calling

This was a letter to self written by a prisoner in Pelican Bay’s SHU Program

Last night I received a visit from an old adversary. I was just about to fall asleep when, suddenly, Insanity came calling to do battle. I fought diligently and at no point in time did I yield, however, thousands of emotions were violently killed during my struggle to overcome. I was very much unprepared. The attack was rather ruthless, coming swiftly me without warning. Once the premise was set the fighting began with my thoughts, subsequently advancing to my respiratory system. Durng this time, my mind was being bombarded with thoughts of sorrow, utter despair and desperation. I was experiencing difficulties breathing; Insanity had me in the depths of its clutches, choking out every breath that I took was great persistency and patience, in spite of a opposition. I became exceedingly frightened; terrified to say the least.

My biggest fear is that one day I will undoubtedly succumb to my enemy and relinquish every once of sanity that I have. But wait. Why should I be so fearful? When total sanity is gone, so goes my suffering so goes my sorrows. It is only my existence (my self-awareness) which tells me that I’m suffering. If I’m am to continue to exist in a constant state of oppression, why then should I remain aware of it? Under these circumstances, insanity is the preferred selection while death is an alternative.

Certainly my death is not the worst possible outcome. The worst thing about dying is living to know about it. I do not live in the same sense as one who physically experiences life from day to day. I merely exist within my own consciousness. To the world, I am dead. I am very much aware of my death because I am “the living dead.” The only thing tangible about me is my awareness of myself. Realistically, there are no other physical attributes required for this physical form of existence. I see no reason for even wanting to exist in such a state. I am aware of only myself; outside of this ever contracting coffin which I’m confined to, nothing else seems to exist.

I have absolutely no concept of time. Every day is the same as days passed; today is tommorrow, tomorrow is today, and the past is my future. Sadly, I see no end in sight as I struggle everyday to maintain my sanity. It is a battle in which I feel, ultimately, I shall lose; perhaps even a loss that I shall look forward to.

Insanity has many weapons of mass destruction, including those of biochemical warfare. How can I possibly prepare myself for battle in an environment consisting of utter chaos, hatred and sorrow? In which direction do I turn for Hope in a world where even my Keepers look down on me with contempt and aversion, simply because I am an “inmate” and not a human being?

Why should I continue to live in darkness? Even my shadow knows better than that.

by Theo Wilson

Suicide Survior Writes

Originally published in “The Fire Inside(Spring 2017)

Help Me Stay Alive

They see the tears in my eyes, the despair on my face and the trembling of my body. There is no mercy, no compassion, no real understanding of the pain I’m in. I can never admit thoughts I have about giving up or wanting my pain to end. This only leads to handcuffs and humiliation as I am escorted across the yard in front of curious inmates wondering what I did wrong. I just wanted someone to listen to me, to help me process my stressful situation or maybe adjust my medication; someone to help me stay alive… Officers are all around me trying to decide what to do. They want me to say, “I’m going to hurt myself,” but I refuse. I don’t need to be punished. I just want someone to help me to stay alive.

The decision has been made. For my own protection, and treatment protocol, I’m stripped of my clothing and placed in a sterile room by myself… Why are they punishing me? All I did was ask for help. Now I’m all alone, isolated from everyone. I wish my friend could be here… She tried to comfort me today but was ordered to stay away from my window. I struggle being locked in my room/unit all the time. Nobody hears me cry, nobody hears my tears… Do I dare ask for help again? How many times do I need to be on suicide watch? In the room next to mine I hear the most disturbing and horrible screams. Nobody came to help her. I knew her screams were coming from a dark hole that she was unable to escape from. I’ve been there too. I wonder if she takes the same medicine as me. I wonder how long she’s been sad. I wonder if she has ever tried to hurt herself. I wonder if she will ever get the help she needs to stay alive…

So many women here are sad. They lose their freedom, their spouses, children, friends, homes and so much more. Why are they so quick to medicate me with so many drugs? Is there something else we can try?…

I need help coping with the things that make me sad. I need to learn how to get out of the dark hole when my medicine isn’t working, when I can’t reach my friend or when a copay is too late. Is anyone listening to me? Is there anyone who’s willing to help me stay alive?

I am a “suicide survivor” who has battled depression for many years. My attempts to improve the delivery of our Mental Health Care have been unsuccessful as evidence by our staggering suicide rate here at CIW. Locking up inmates in isolation rooms and prescribing heavy doses of Psych medication is both temporary and unproductive. I believe we need support groups to help us process our feelings of depression/suicide. Talking about root causes and alternatives to medication must be considered.

by Brinda McCoy

Due Process in the Era of Me Too

by Donald “C-Note” Hooker

On September 27, 2018, in the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, the nation heard riveting testimony of an attempted sexual assault, and the denial of that assault. A crime that occurred 37-years ago with no corroborating witnesses.

In a he-say, she-say trial, who gets the benefit of the doubt? The accused, or the accuser? In this era of Me Too, is it guilty until you can prove yourself innocent, or innocent until proven guilty? Could due process be sacrificed at the altar of gender politics, and why does it matter?

In reviewing my in-cell library on feminist theory, these matters and debates are not new, and the answers to these questions have long been addressed. The first question that has to be asked, “Who speaks for the feminist?” “Who has her girlfriend’s back?” The demarcation in the feminist lines can best be exemplified by the research compiled by one feminist researcher.

The emergence of “privilege-checking,” however, reflects the reality that mainstream feminism remains dominated by the straight white middle-classes. Parvan Amara interviewed self-identified working-class feminist for a piece published on internet magazine The F Word and noted that many of the women she spoke to found themselves excluded from mainstream feminism both on the internet and “in real life. “Amara notes that many women tend to encounter feminism at University. Women who do not go on to further their education face a barrier when attempting to engage with those academic debates that drive feminism.[1]

So if academia is where the debates that are driving feminist theory are occurring, what does that academic debate look like if she is not white?

Ignoring the difference of race between women and the implications of differences presents the most serious threat to the mobilization of women’s joint power. Refusing to recognize difference makes it impossible to see the different problems and pitfalls facing us as women. Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your back upon the reason they are dying.[2]

Another theorist surmized, “Black women’s own views on rape cannot help being shaped by the actions of their white sisters. That is to say, that Black people cannot use a white supremacist justice system without perpetrating white supremacy. “[3]

These other theorists have long been critical of weaponizing process. This was recently on display in California. There, a recall movement was taking place to remove a judge for imposing a light sentence on a Stanford University student for sexual assault. The most vocal opponent to the recall were Black women. The most visible, former California Supreme Court Justice, Janice M. Brown.[4] She argued, that punishing a judge for exercising discretion will only harm defendants of color. Satistics bear this out. Per 100,000 of the Black and Brown population in 2010, 6,000 were imprisoned; while per 100,000 of the white population in 2010, 650 were in prison. Black and Brown persons of color are in front of Criminal Court judges far more than whites.

Another theorist called this type of feminism, Carceral Feminism and rails against the federal passage of the 1999, Violence Against Women Act (Many of the feminist who had lobbied for the passage of VAWA remain silent about countless other women whose 9-1-1 calls resort in more violence. Often white, well-heeled feminist, they’re legislative accomplishment did little to stem violence against less affluent, more marginalize women. And a further theorist noted, “If women do not share ‘common oppression,’ what then can serve as a basis for our coming together?”[7]

These other feminist theorists, the marginalized, had observed that the debate was about rational-feminism, versus emotional-feminism. This feminist theorist argues that rational-feminism must prevail over emotional-feminism.

The Sisterhood line as currently practiced (but not in the 1960s and early 1970s) is white, bourgeois, sexist propaganda. Women just turn around from seeking approval from men that they never got; to demanding unconditional approval from women. They put each other on a pedestal and imagine each other to be flawless goddesses.[8]

This same theorist argues, the root of emotional-feminism is nothing more than a chauvinist plot to keep women marginalized and caught up in their emotions, rather than applying her faculties of reasoning.

The root of this is the patriarchal socialization of women to restrict themselves to the sphere of feelings, while letting men develop the rational faculties necessary to wield power. Women are taught to read romantic novels, major in English, or maybe psychology, if the women seem like they are getting too many scientific ideas.[9]

Is the rallying cry, “I BELIEVE HER,” the death nails to due process? Is process, going to be sacrificed at the altar of gender politics? Is the new standard for America’s father’s, brothers, husbands, and sons, “GUILTY, UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE YOURSELF INNOCENT”?

One theorist’s 1992 writings, used the 1986 rape convictions of white women by the race of their rapist. 68% of their rapist were white, 22% of their rapist were Black, 5% were Other, and 2% of their rapist were Mixed. The theorist begs feminist to take a serious look at the 22% of white women raped in 1986 were raped by Black men.

The theorist goes on to state a general proposition that all feminists can generally agree upon, “Three-quarters of all rapes are by acquaintances, and the figures on rape should reflect that women are raped by the type of people they date.”

In 1986, 12% of the men available to white women were Black. However, nowhere near 12% of the sex white women were having were with Black men. Thus the 22% of white women’s rapist being Black, were disproportionately high. Furthermore, the population of white women was more than six-times the population of Black men. For every white woman who had a sexual aquaintance with a Black man, it takes six-Black men, to be those acquaintances. Out of those acquaintances charged with rape, the 22% figure means a very high proportion of Black men generally are accused of rape by white women compared to white men.

The theorist takes note, up to this point, the figures have been examined from the perspective of the rape victim. But taken from the Black man’s perspective, white women are a large group of the American population, while Black men are a relatively small one. For Black men, 63.3% of their rape accusers were white women. If Black men had 63.3% of their sexual interactions with white women, then the accusations might be fair, but this was far from the case.

The theorist surmised we could get an idea of how skewed the accusations were by looking at “interracial dating.” The theorist could not give a figure for what percentage of the dates people went on were interracial. Instead, the theorist surmised we could guess that it was similar to the figures for the percentage of people in interracial marriages. Black men married to white women accounted for 0.3% of the total marriages in the United States as of 1989. In 1989, less than 4% of Black married men were married to white women, so we estimate that less than 4% of Black men’s dating were with white women. Hence, less than 4% of accusations face by Black men should come from white women. Instead, the figure was 63.3 per percent.[10]

The history of that story, is the other side of sexual politics here in America. An America where the LAPD and Oakland PD have had hundreds of convictions overturned, due to incredibly, credible, false testimony of police officers. A land where 15% of the Black population in Tula, Texas, were incarcerated by the incredibly, credible, testimony of a single racist officer.[11] According to the San Quentin News 139 prisoners Nationwide were exonerated in 2017.[12]

Credible demeanor in testimony has never been full proof. The National Academy of Sciences, along with the FBI, have noted, eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable testimony.[13] While this would obviously be in reference to witnesses testifying against strangers, but the juries which wrongly convicted these defendants were doing so from witnesses who were credible and convincing in their testimony. In 2013, 153 of the 268 exonerations by the innocent project were for rape.[14] 72% of all DNA exonerations are people of color. Other 72%, 61% are African Americans.[15]

Theorist can clearly see, “I BELIEVE HER,” with its lock-in-step demands of Sisterhood, is classic emotional-feminist theory. What is the emotional-feminist rationale to do away with “INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY”? Nor could emotional-theorist surmise they are not doing away with this uniquely, American, ideal. In Mexico, every defendant is guilty until proven innocent, and that standard has failed to be a vanguard in protecting The Sisterhood of sexual violence in that country. “I BELIEVE HER,” is a presumption-of-guilt, rather than the presumption-of-innocent that the rational-feminists are standing for, and for years have been arguing against the emotional-feminist assault on process. While emotional-feminism, with its well-heeled, racial, social, and economic status is having the loudest voice, their marginalized sisters, whose rational-feminist approach, is the only voice of hope for fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons; a hope, the other side doesn’t win the debate.

 

 

End Notes
[1] Ealasaid Munro. “Feminism: A fourth wave?” Political Studies Association, http://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/feminism-fourth-wave/
[2] Audre Lorde. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, St. Martin’s Press, 1995, 3rd pg. 445-451 [Paper delivered at the Copeland Colloquium, Amherst College, April 1980.]
[3] MC5. “Using Women of Color for an Individualist Pseudo-Feminist Agenda”.Gender and Revolution Feminism,MIM Theory, Summer and Fall 1992, Numbers 2 & 3 Vol. I, pg. 94-96
[4] Donald “C-Note” Hooker. “The Myth of Intersectionality to Women of Color”. Mprisond Thotz 27 May 2018, http://www.mprisondthotz.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-myth-of-intersectionality-to-women-of-color/
[5] “Changes in Incrceration Rates”. Coalition For Prisoners Rights Newsletter, Oct. 2015, Vol. 40-v, No.10, pg. 2
[6] Victoria Law. “Against Carceral Feminism.” Jacobin Magazine, Oct. 2014, http://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/against-carceral-feminism/
[7] Bell Hooks. “Feminism: A Transformational Politics.” Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, St.Martin’s Press, 1995, Third Edition, pg. 494
[8] ibid. 3, pg. 95
[9] MC5. “Rationalists and Mystics”. Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, MIM Theory, Summer and Fall 1992, Numbers 2 & 3, Vol. I, pg.53
[10] MC5. “The Myth of the Black Rapist”. Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, MIM Theory, Summer and Fall 1992, Numbers 2 & 3, Vol. I, pg.91-93
[11] Michelle Alexander. The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2012, pg. 10
[12] Marcus Henderson. “139 prisoners Nationwide were exonerated in 2017.”
San Quentin News Aug. 2018, pg. 14, http://www.sanquentinnews
[13] Radley Blako. “New National Academy of Sciences study critical of eyewitness testimony.” The Washington Post, 3 Oct. 2014
[14] Eric Lorenzsonn. “5 Things You Should Know About DNA Exonerations. The Progressive, 30 Mar. 2013, http://www.progressive.org
[15] DNA Exonerations in the United States: Fast Facts”. Innocent Project, http://www.innocenceproject.org

[C-Note has written for Prison Action News, California Prison Focus, Turning The Tide, and Our Voice. He’s been written about in People, Darealprisonart, Inside CDCR, and KCET-Los Angeles’s Departures. In 2017, Google Search listed him as both Americas and the world’s most prolific prisoner-artist.]

What if Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now had Covered the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March?

by Donald “C-Note” Hooker

On January 21st, 2017, in Washington, D.C., the Women’s March was held. 210-days later, on August 19th, 2017, in Washington, D.C., the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March was held. 214-days after that, on March 24th, 2018, in Washington, D.C., the March for Our Lives was held. I became aware of Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now and the work they do four years ago. Their on the ground reporting at the Women’s March was excellent.

Sometime thereafter, I became aware of the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. Seeing the crowd turnout for the Women’s March, this was an opportunity to have similar crowds showcasing public support in the cause of the prisoner. I told anybody I could about the Prisoner March. I created a graphic design about the event that included the contact information to the event organizers. I then had the design printed on paper as stationary, and distributed it to the prison population. When asked by various prisons, “Why are you doing this?” I told them, “It is our responsibility to assist those in society who are helping us behind the wall.” While this was my message, many didn’t seem to get it. One day we had visitors to give us entrepreneurial advice. I shared this stationary and it went over extremely well. One group was a Silicon Beach startup that specializes in social-justice-promotion. Two weeks later, I reached out to this group to help promote the Prisoner March, and was temporarily suspended from my entrepreneur group for doing so.

For the past two years, every Saturday, I have been working with the Nation of Islam and their Fruit of Islam (FOI), regarding Minister Farrakhan’s “10,000 Fearless,” the call for men and women to be involved in neighborhood conflict resolution. On Saturday, the day of the Prisoner March, I skipped this weekly meeting to watch Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now cover the Prisoner March. This didn’t happen. It happened nowhere on broadcast TV; even though this was a nationwide March.

On Saturday, August 12th, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, Heather Heyer was fatally killed in a hit-and-run during a protest rally of White Nationalist. A week later on the 19th, rallies were held across the country protesting Heyer’s death. These rallies were covered in the national press and Democracy Now.

While our Prisoner rallies were Nationwide, and multitude of people did participate, we did not reach critical mass to capture the public imagination. And “Why was that?” I list poor planning by the national event organizers, poor funding, and a lethargic laissez faire attitude by the prisoner population in getting family members involved.

Long-time Penal Reformers and Abolitionists have seen the failures of individuals with big ideals but poor managerial skills, or lack of staffing to support those ideas. Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney gave March for Our Lives $500,000 each. It is not as though Penal Reform movements don’t have their arts and entertainment supporters and other philanthropist. 2.3 million times the number of family members affected by their imprisonment and America can mobilize a formidable March for Prisoners.

We are living in an age where social movements are becoming aware that support must be intersectional, meaning across social movements. To those who rally and use the “Prisoner’s Voice,” to raise awareness and fundraise off of, must understand that they must help to create Stars-Behind-Bars. To the uninitiated, American prison-culture, influences American street-culture. American street-culture, influences American pop-culture. And American pop-culture, influences Global culture. Cultural capital can be made into real capital. The currency capital of a reality TV star is their fame. That means making Stars-Behind-Bars out of our writers and artists becomes a form of leverage or cultural currency in the planning and promoting of events. It also means giving back to those artisans financially. This acts as an incentive for the prison artist to go deeper into the mastery of their art. It also spurs broader prisoner participation in learning about the creative process, and how to become involved in the movement. And studies show, that participation in the Arts is a known quantum in producing a more actualized returning citizen. Social media advance posting, scheduling tools, such as HootSuite and Facebook Page Manager allows for the reposting of a prisons work, or links to their work, several times in any given month, week, or day. The same programming technique record labels use with radio or streaming to capture the public’s imagination with their artist. While much progress has been made, the mere fact that one March came 210-days before our March, with mass media coverage, and the other 214-days after our March with mass media coverage, shows we have a long way in capturing the public’s imagination here in the United States.

[C-Note has written for Prisaon Action News, California Prison Focus, and Mprisond Thotz He’s been written about in People, Darealprisonart, KCET-Los Angeles’s Departures, and Inside CDCR. In 2017, Google Search listed him as both America’s and the world’s most prolific prisoner-artist.]

One Thing I Would Change About the Prison System

by Kamau Jones

I would change the visiting structure and restore the true purpose and meaning of rehabilitation. I would establish and create an environment which institute an atmosphere of harmony. Thus, by doing so, it’ll give the incarcerated male/female the opportunity to reconnect and bond with their loved ones. I would put into effect counseling for those individuals who desire to learn the fundamentals to strengthening their family ties. It’d be a nice chance to bridge broken family relations and educate on the significance of keeping the glue of the family structure firmly cemented. Building stronger relations and productive communication with loved ones would hopefully give so-called inmates a sense of responsibility to maintain ones faith, dignity and sentiment of feeling human. That is, worthy of loving and accepting being loved. I believe firmly by keeping ones spirits alive and morale high would in time create a sense of purpose and meaning in the lives of those enduring the loneliness from incarceration.

Furthermore, by helping to rebuild the family structure and keeping the flame of hope alive, it would be a very progressive step towards helping to rehabilitate. It would help the person who’s incarcerated appreciate and respect those who genuinely love them. And, just maybe, this might inspire change. That would also bring success to our respective communities…making society much safer in the near future.

The Myth of Intersectionality to Women of Color

by Donald “C-Note Hooker

Intersectionality, under the context of social justice, is a terminology that means, across social movements. Its meaning can best be summed through a parable.
A white environmentalist at an environmental conference is complaining, “Where are the Black people?” A fellow next to him ask, “Have you ever gone to a seminar on criminal justice?” The moral being, “How can you ask someone to support your cause when you are unwilling to support theirs?” The concept arose from frustration by social justice movements to their own impotency, and asks, “Wouldn’t we be better off if we joined forces?” However, women of color are constantly being presented with a Hobson’s Choice of supporting race over gender, or gender over race.

Take the case of the judge recall movement in California. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, Aaron M. Persky, gave a six-month sentence for sexual assault to Stanford University student, Brock Turner. The sentence caused a backlash as it stunk of “White male privilege.” But the recalling of the judge has both proponents and opponents. The most staunchest proponent are women. The most staunchest opponents are women too, but of color. The highest-profile woman of color opponent, is former California Supreme Court Justice, Janice M Brown. She vehemently argues that a successful recall will only hurt defendants of color.

This writer has long ago wizened to the effects of harsher laws targeting the White male rapist. As Justice Brown argues, time and time again, these harsher laws put in jeopardy far more criminal defendants than the White male rapist that they are intended to target.

Despite having passed Propositions 36, 47, and 57, California still holds prisoners who have been in prison for over two decades for crack cocaine valued under $10, driving without the owner’s consent, or felony evading arrest, under the Three Strikes law. A sentencing scheme that was repeatedly rejected by the California legislation, until the murder and rape of a White child, by a White male.

When the White boyfriend of a White female graduate had been released on bail for her murder, Californians passed Proposition 9, also known as “Marsy’s law.” Pre-Marsy, prisoners sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, had parole hearings after 30 years of confinement. Post-Marsy, that opportunity to go in front of a parole board was forever lost. Pre-Marsy, life with parole prisoners, were eligible to go in front of the parole board every three years, once they had served out their determinate sentence. Post-Marsy, they could be denied up to 15 years, before they would be eligible for another parole hearing.

As a result of California’s 30-plus years of prison expansion, mandatory sentencing is no longer viewed as a smart and intelligent means to deal with crime. Justice Brown is arguing, that the net effect of the recall is that judges will be chilled from exercising discretion. Since defendants of color are disproportionately in front of judges, this chilling effect will disproportionately be harmful to them. People of color are sick and tired of being the collateral damage to the White male rapist. Isn’t it ironic, that women of color have to point out to their White female counterparts, that quite often, they are faced with a Hobson’s Choice of choosing race over gender.

[C-Note has written for Prisaon Action News, California Prison Focus, and Mprisond Thotz He’s been written about in People, Darealprisonart, KCET-Los Angeles’s Departures, and Inside CDCR. In 2017, Google Search listed him as both America’s and the world’s most prolific prisoner-artist.]

When You Gang Bang


by Min. King William G. Brown-UmojaMalknthanaki (Pyeface)

When you gang bang you will learn to keep your emotions in check. You will learn to keep your emotions in check because the weak will always be preyed on.
When you gang bang you can’t cry in front of other people because you will be looked at as a punk, or coward. You will be looked at as a sissy, or and a little girl.
People are made to be emotional about all sorts of things in life, but when you gang bang you have to keep your emotions in check because if you don’t it is a fact that you will be treated with less respect and honor by those who gang bang.
When you gang bang you are suppose to be strong and hard. If you were to cry every time something or someone your feelings, you would be treated like a weak person.
When you learn to keep your emotions in check you are teaching yourself to suffer eternally.
When you learn to keep your emotions and tears in check, you will still possess your emotions, but you will suffer and deal with them in a different way. You may take it out on others who are closest to you. You may take it out on yourself in private. Either of these ways are the wrong way to deal with your emotions.
When you gang bang you go through so much trauma, drama, and grief, but because of your lack of emotions outward, you will go through more inward, emotional mental pain.
Pain is pain, no matter who you are, we all suffer and experience pain.
Most gang bangers have so much pain and mental grief inside that they grow up angrier, and more dangerous than the average person.
If you don’t wish to grow up and go through more mental anguish, and emotional pain than normal people experience, you shouldn’t gang bang because when you gang bang you will have to keep your emotions deep inside at all times and when you do this to yourself, you will put yourself through more suffering than you could ever imagine possible.
If you don’t wish to suffer mentally anymore than a average person suffers in a life time than you shouldn’t gang bang.

How Gang Banging Causes You to Lose Your Independence


by Min. King William G. Brown-UmojaMalknthanaki (Pyeface)

INDEPENDENCE: (1) The quality or state of being independent. (2) Not subject to control by others

When a person chooses to gang bang, they choose to follow what other people are doing.
Gangs are made up of people who do not choose their own path in life, but the path of people who were also burdened with the false belief that they had to follow others who chose to follow the path of gang members before them.
When I chose to gang bang I justified my actions by putting the blame on my environment and lack of family love.
I was a follower and chose not to make my own path in life.
I didn’t have many choices or role models to follow, but I chose the path of people who were just as confused, just as hurt, just as wrong, and just not independent to say the least.
I thought gang banging was the way of life for everyone everywhere, but now I see that I was wrong.
If I would have made the correct choice of not following the gang bangers in my community my life would be different.

Neo Jim Crow: Black Art Movements and Its 21st Descendants

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

In 2010 Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness was published. If someone were to use an internet search engine and typed in, “Jim Crow Art,” they will be sorely disappointed in what they saw. History has a tendency of repeating itself when we fail to keep the cultural records necessary from repeating. In 2014 I began documenting the drawings, writings, sound recordings, and videos of incarcerated African Americans, and called this work Neo Jim Crow Art. It functions as a cultural record of incarceration on the Black experience in America, and acts as the artistic expression of New Jim Crow. The artistic record differs from the historical record in that, the historian records facts; while the artist records feelings. What did it feel like to be traumatized by Jim Crow?

In 2017 scholars from various academic disciplines and institutions gathered at Yale University for an interdisciplinary conference titled: “The Arts in the Black Press During the Age of Jim Crow.” If Jim Crow art, that is art that was created during Jim Crow and is an expression of Jim Crow is not readily discernible by African-Americans, is there any wonder why Blacks failed to recognize Jim Crow in its new form, mass incarceration. Similarly, nobody refers to post-slavery, mass incarceration, as a result of the Black Codes as slavery; however, it was. In fact, the 13th Amendment authorizes slavery upon the duly convicted. The art that is presented online as Jim Crow is so embarrassing you would think that Blacks were incapable of creating Fine Art during that period. Using 21st century technology, Neo Jim Crow Art is the digital pushback; inspired by the imprimatur of the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance to “Never forget.” It’s motto, “Do future Americans have a right to know, about this generation Jim Crow?”

C-Note has written for Prison Action News, California Prison Focus, and has been in People Magazine, Public Television-Los Angeles (KCET), and ABC-Los Angeles (KABC). He is also a poet, playwright, painter, and performing artist, whose works have either been exhibited, performed, or sold, from Alcatraz to Berlin. In 2017 Google Search Engine results listed him as both “America’s most prolific prisoner-artist,” and the “World’s most prolific prisoner-artist.