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

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Neo Jim Crow Art 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.“