In the 20th Century we had Jim Crow. In the 21st Century we have the New Jim Crow or Neo Jim Crow. Can America point to her Jim Crow authors, writers, and painters of the 20th Century? Can Blacks point to their celebrated Jim Crow authors, writers or painters of the 20th Century?
We at Darealprisonart have utilized the great search engines of our time and have virtually came up with nothing. As far as Jim Crow artistic expressions known to be such from those living during that era. While there is a rich photogenic encapitulation of these times, more so in a photojournalistic sense, there really isn’t any identifiable artistic expression of the emotional, physiological state, and internal feelings, from the populace who were actually living through this trauma.
We at Darealprisonart believe that history tends to repeat itself if horrors or tragedies are not properly expressed in art. We credit the 2010 release of Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness as being the impetus in making sure someone collects the artistic expressions of those living through the horror of the New Jim Crow. While jazz, hip hop, rock and roll, and gospel, are artistic expressions that have their genesis in the black community, they are ultimately Amercan art forms. While America writ large may not feel compelled to collect this art or artifacts contemporaneously, African Americans are duty bound to acquire and make such a collection available to the museums and libraries on the subject matter of the Black experience. We feel the keeping of such a record is an analog to the Jewish Holocaust record keeping. While we are unaware of how the Jewish community feels about their tragedy and the next community making an analogous comparison to it; it is not uncommon in the beauty shops and barber shops of Black America to reference the Jewish campaign and approach of “Never Forget.” The Gay Pride, or gay civil rights movement in America, constantly denotes, to the dismay of some Black quarters, that the Black civil rights movement was a source of inspiration and strategies for their movement. The 2014 “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” movement in Black America, equally spawned such a protest in Black Brazil; which has the largest Black population in the whole of the Americas, and the second largest Black population on Earth, outside of Nigeria.
There exists drawings of the prison guards by Japanese Americans during their interment during the Second World War. There exist similar drawings by Jews held captive in Nazi death camps. While none of these drawings have been deemed great works of art, nevertheless, they are culturally relevant. They do encapsulate a particular time and particular place in the larger history, but especially to the aggrieved group in question.
African Americans have deemed their current state of affairs of their experience in America as the, “New Jim Crow”, “The Black Holocaust”, and the term we’ve coined, “Institutionalized Dispora”. In a publication we noted, “The Institutionalized Dispora of African Americans from their American homes to the American prisons is now acknowledged in some quarters as the New Jim Crow, or Neo Jim Crow. However, the Blacks refuse to preserve the cultural legacy of these times.” In one of our promotionals we note, “ Creating the largest conglomerate of 21st century Jim Crow art, both in the visual and literary arts”.
Our 21st century Jim Crow art collection thus far, run the gauntlet of artistic expressions, from the mundane, to the comedic, to some really, really, horrifying material, of the physical, mental, and emotional cost of being incarcerated. If African Americans are not savvy enough to know the importance of preserving their collective history in their private or public space, then it should never be a source of wonderment to them or Americans writ large that history has once again repeated itself.
[Editor’s Note]: If anyone would like to meet the founder of the Neo Jim Crow art movement, he is currently an inmate at the California State Prison Los Angeles County. We encourage you to write him:
Donald “C-Note” Hooker
P.O. Box 4490
Lancaster, CA. 93539