Today We Are Sisters

Today we are sisters
Tomorrow we won’t
unless for reparations
together we fight
I am Pro Choice
I am Pro Life
just because she’s in prison
She still has rights

About Paintoem:
Painting by: C-Note
Poem by: C-Note

Today We Are Sisters is an original work of wax on paper. Done by Donald “C-Note” Hooker in 2018. Today We Are Sisters tells the tale of the 150 California female prisoners that were forcibly sterilized from 2006-2010.

An artist update:

Anyone who observes the body of my work can get a sense that I fashon my work on history. One of the very unique aspects of the 21st Century is the faux belief that we as a species are not the 20th Century. What did the 20th Century bring us? For us Blacks in America, mass lynching and Jim Crow. The century began with a World War, mechanized killing, and mustard gas in War trenches. It went on to produce a Second World War, the gas chamber killings of millions of Jewish people, the mass killings of hundreds of thousands of Japanese through the splitting of the atom. A whole swath of humanity living in the northern hemisphere were under the threat of nuclear annihilation as a result of the Cold War. Kids who have been born post-Cold War, are absolutely clueless of the psychological burden of this everyday fear. The Cold War was an existential threat to our daily lives here in the United States and across Europe. The 20th century also brought us various notions of population control, and these ideas originated from the left of the political spectrum. In the United States, the party that is out of power professes to have the moral high ground in our society. So you get a sort of political preachiness, a righteousness about what they stand for as opposed to the group that is in power. Being a Black male in the United States, we have been orientated that the political left has our back. But in the 20th Century, the Democratic party is the party that the Ku Klux Klan came from, and listen to these lines in my poem, The World’s Greatest Threat: Being Black With Self-Respect

Because whites don’t wanna
do nothing about changin
the situation
about Black acclimation
into fabric Americana
wit your dirty lies
about apple pies
and second amendment aggrandization
Cause when was there ever a time
we could do
what we wanted to do
as a Black man or woman
legally armed
with a gun in our hand

Change California law
when Huey went to the State capitol
opened and carried
Killed Philando Castillo
in Minnesota
as a illegally armed
Black motorist
Standing on her own property
as a licensed gun owning Black woman
Michigan would rather imprison
a pregnant Swatu Salam Ra for two years
than let her use
their “Stand your ground” law
Due take notice
these were all liberal States

So when it comes to an African-American exercising his or her gun rights in Blue State America, they don’t want to extend that to them. These stories are endless and can go on and on. Republicans would argue, that in the course of a mass shooting, if somebody was armed they could mitigate the casualties. Well at a mall in Alabama on Thanksgiving, there was an African American who was a former United States Army serviceman, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., the 21-year old was armeo and carried out such protection; however, the police showed up and straight killed him, thought he was a suspect.

In 2017, while listening to Los Angeles Public Radio Station KCRW local news program Press Play, hosted by Madeleine Brand, the topic was reparations for forced sterilization here in California. From my programming notes, forced sterilizations were legal from 1909-1979, 20,000-sterilizations took place between 1919-1953 (majority of sterilization), and Spanish surnames were disproportionately sterilized. What shocked me, was from 2006-2010, 150-women prisoners were forcibly sterilized, and these are the alleged reported cases. Now this whole news story was about righting the wrongs of California’s Eugenics program by providing reparations, and that they were actively seeking victims of this practice in order to give them their due reparations; however, nowhere in this conversation was the reparations for these women-prisoners. This is why in the paintoem Today We Are Sisters it contains the following lines, “Today We Are Sisters/tomorrow we won’t/unless for reparations/together we fight.” In the 20th Century Eugenics was legal in California and outlawed in California. But why in the 21st Century the state was authorizing eugenics against its women prisoners? And why did it take until 2014 to outlaw the practice? But they really didn’t outlaw the practice. In the United States, the practice of slavery isn’t outlawed, there is a constitutional exception if a person has been duly convicted of a crime they can legally be enslaved. With the 2014 law, “Such surgies can be performed to save the life of the mother,” SB 1135.

As an artist, I like to give voice to the voiceless. In my work Life Without the Possibility of Parole the story of women doing life without the possibility of parole in a California women’s prison, the vehicle for telling that story was a white woman. In Strange Fruit, the story of mass suicides in a California women’s prison, the vehicle for telling that story was a Black woman. So I was looking for an opportunity to tell a Brown woman’s story. And since the story of eugenics in California was the targeting of persons with Spanish surnames, this gave me an opportunity to tell a Brown woman’s story. Me being an absolutely stupid guy, and using my observations, women are very catty, and they themselves are always discussing how they don’t support one another. This is why the piece is called Today We Are Sisters. Because no matter what side of the abortion debate you are on, forcef sterilization is anti Pro-Life, and is anti Pro-Choice. But remember I said I was just a stupid guy, and I will stick to that story. So imagine my surprise when this work received no love from several women who told me the point of view, as I was informed by them, assuming they have more expertise than I do, as I am not a woman, that some women should not be in the enterprise of reproduction.

[Editor’s Note ]: This Paintoem, like all Paintoems, are given to the public, to have free use rights, so long as acknowledgement is given to the artist(s).

Links to other Paintoems:
My Dilemma
Tears of the Mothers
Black August-Los Angeles
More Paintoems

Today We Are Sisters (Paintoem) available in prints

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