“No More Massacres,” How Solutions to America’s Gun Violence Can Be Found In It’s Prisons

No More Massacres is a collaborative work of art, between imprisoned poet, Darryl Burnside, and the world’s most prolific prisoner-artist, Donald “C-Note” Hooker [1]. Imprisoned for life at 16, Burnside had been greatly affected watching year after year, teens and pre-teens gunned down through mass gun violence.

Here are excerpts from an interview we will be publishing about Burnside’s poem, No More Massacres, his work in the Arts, and as a youth restorative justice leader.

DRPA: You wrote No More Massacres [2], tell us what that was about?

DB: Well, you see what’s going on in the world with Parkland, but for me, my journey began in 2008 in Pelican Bay. That’s when I saw the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, and the death of Christina Taylor, the little girl that was present.

DRPA: We thought your story was interesting. Here you are imprisoned at 16, the same age of the kids involved in the school shootings.

DB: Absolutely I related, but not how you think. I had discovered the history of mass school shootings go back to Columbine, but I don’t know nothing about no Columbine. I was too caught-up in my own pistol toting lifestyle growing up in South Los Angeles. Kids get shot all the time. What’s the big deal?

DRPA: Yeah, Edna Gonzalez from South Los Angeles spoke at the March for Our Lives and that’s what she said.

DB: I was shot at the age of 13.

DRPA: Wow!

DB: I’ve been on both ends of the barrel.

We also interviewed for this piece, C-Note, the O.G. Crip from Los Angeles, and world’s most prolific prisoner-artist. He responded to Burnside’s request for a visual artist to create a visual work for his literary piece.

C-Note: When I was in High Desert, the worst prison in California [3], broke, and starving, I focused on a niche Art Market, tattoo patterns for Black gang members.

DRPA: Okay.

C-Note: Being tatted-up is huge for this generation, both in and outside of prison. When I was coming up, and I have a few tattoos, mine were done with melting a plastic chess piece, mixing the burnt soot with water and toothpaste for ink, a filed-down paperclip as the needle, melted onto a plastic toothbrush. So we weren’t going to get no large-scale work done, if that was your process as it was in the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail Gang Unit, back in the day. So I took an already existing work that promoted gun violence, and reworked it with the circle with the line going through the middle that symbolizes prohibitive behavior [4].

DRPA: So work that was created to promote gun culture, and gun violence is now being used to promote the opposite.

C-Note: Not necessarily, I still make available in print, this piece without the prohibitive symbol. I’m still connected to the gang community and people that want that space to express that type of sentiment. I am big on people being conscious of “Brain Drain.” Communities are not going to get well if they’re best and brightest get educated and walk away. Unfortunately, I have great love for “My People,” and do not see the science in the Bourgeois approach of both moving and walking away from the unhealthy communities from which they come from. Hurt people, hurt people. I make the case, gangs aren’t the problem, but gang violence. Kids join gangs in their youth because all segments of adult Society have abandoned them. Adult Society wants no accountability about their behavior towards the youth, but want full adult accountability from the youth that lacked the structure that adult mentoring brings to the table. This is how you get 16 and 13 year olds charged in adult Criminal Courts, such as Darryl. I don’t preach. I just try to live by example, that there is both an economic (external), and healing process (internal), through the Arts. If the philanthropic community, and I point to the Art for Justice Fund [5] as an approach, are not actually buying Prison Art you are not going to be effective. Hurt communities have to feed their families. Wealthy people are willing to buy Graffiti Art, which is Criminal art, and Street Art, it’s legalized sister, at $100,000 a print, but these artforms owe their origin to Prison Art. The founder of the Graffiti Art movement in America, Darryl “Cornbread” McCray [6], learned all this stuff in prison. We can really start an art Renaissance behind America’s Prison Walls, if deep-pocketed Americans will support it. This is why when you told us about this campaign to enlighten the public across generations and economic levels that they can support great art being created behind the wall, and in the service of social justice we were on board to give this interview.

DRPA: We want the public to be informed of what they can do to give support for turning No More Massacres into a viable social movement. So thank you Darryl, and thank you C-Note for giving us this interview.

How can you support the No More Massacres movement? You can support it by sharing Burnside’s poem with friends, family, and your social media communities. You can bring the No More Massacres work of art into your home, on canvas, poster, metal, and framed prints. You can carry No More Massacres around with you on tote bags, and phone case covers. Or you can wear the symbol of No More Massacres on apparel.

The entire city of Los Angeles has been beautified through street art, and this art form in public spaces has been codified into law [7]. Many, many, years ago, in a North Philly juvenile prison, Darryl McCray, who would later be nicknamed “Cornbread”, by a prison cook, was the place where he learned graffiti. Darryl “Cornbread” McCray, is the founder of the graffiti movement in America. While graffiti is an illegal form of art, it birthed Street Art, her legalized sister.

For the uninitiated, American prison culture, influences, American Street culture. American Street culture, influences American popular culture, and American popular culture, influences Global culture. Great cultural movements can derive from the confines of American prisons. No More Massacres as a potential cultural movement, has good DNA. Darryl Burnside shares the same first name, namesake, as Darryl “Cornbread” McCray. McCray’s behind the prison wall art movement has paved the way for contemporary living Graffiti artist, Banksy, to sell his works in the millions. Its DNA further consists of the King of Prison Hip Hop, who knows how to use the prisoner’s voice as an anchor to Global Hip Hop, so that one day there will be, No More Massacres.

[1] “Featured Artist Donald “C-Note” Hooker”. Darealprisonart, 01 Dec. 2018, accessed November 28, 2018,https://www.pinterest.com/darealprisonart/featured-prisoner-artist-donald-c-note-hooker/
[2] Darryl Burnside. No More Massacres. Mprisond Poetz, accessed November 28, 2018,https://mprisondpoetz.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/416/
[3] Don Thompson. “Investigators Find ‘Culture of Racism,’ Abuse at High Desert State Prison”. Associated Press, accessed November 28, 2018, https://www.kqed.org/news/10796983/investigators-find-culture-of-racism-abuse-at-high-desert-state-prison
[4] Donald “C-Note” Hooker. No More Massacres. Darealprisonart, accessed November 28, 2018, https://fineartamerica.com/featured/no-more-massacres-donald-cnote-hooker.html
[5] Art for Justice Fund. https://artforjusticefund.org/
[6] “Darryl “Cornbread” McCray”. Wikipedia accessed November 28, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornbread_(graffiti_artist)

Print on Canvas


Framed Print


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