Today We Are Sisters (Paintoem)
prison Artist

Donald “C-Note” Hooker’s powerful Paintoem Today We Are Sisters tells the harrowing story of the 150 California female prisoners forcibly sterilized between 2006-2010. The piece, a wax on paper original from 2018, confronts the chilling persistence of eugenic practices into the 21st century.


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

C-Note, known for his unflinching portrayals of historical injustice, was inspired by a news story about reparations for victims of California’s earlier eugenics program.  Shocked that forced sterilizations had continued so recently and angered that incarcerated women were excluded from compensation, C-Note created this artwork to give them a voice.

Artist Donald “C-Note” Hooker Sheds Light on Forced Sterilization with “Today We Are Sisters”

The artist draws a chilling parallel between California’s past and present abuses. He questions the hypocrisy of 20th-century notions of population control persisting under the very political party that often claims moral superiority. 

Today We Are Sisters is a powerful call to action – a reminder that historical injustices continue, often hidden in plain sight, and demand our attention. 

“My art delves into history, reminding us that even in the 21st century, we grapple with the darkest legacies of the past.  The 20th century, marked by world wars and atrocities, also saw the rise of eugenics – a chilling philosophy of population control often supported by the political left under the guise of social progress,” states C-Note.

“This hypocrisy continues today. While ‘liberal’ states uphold gun rights for some, Black Americans exercising those same rights are often met with fatal suspicion. Meanwhile, California’s own history of forced sterilizations continues into this century with the targeting of incarcerated women from 2006-2010.

Today We Are Sisters confronts this injustice. While reparations were offered to victims of the state’s earlier eugenics program, these women prisoners were callously overlooked. The poem’s lines ‘Today We Are Sisters/tomorrow we won’t/unless for reparations/together we fight’ call for urgent solidarity and justice.

Shockingly, even after the practice was ‘outlawed’ in 2014, loopholes allow it under vague pretenses, revealing the chilling persistence of eugenic ideals within our legal system. 

My art gives voice to those silenced by power. The Paintoem Today We Are Sisters spotlights a Brown woman’s story within the enduring struggle against forced sterilization, a practice that violates the right to bodily autonomy regardless of the victim’s background or beliefs.”

Today We Are Sisters, a first of its kind to raise awareness through Art of the off the books practice of eugenics being carried out in the California women prison system, was met with success at the legislative level. In 2021, California passed a $7.5M reparations law, becoming the first State in the nation to provide eugenics compensation to its women prisoners.

However, this legislative victory was short lived, as the law had a reparations sunset provision to apply before the end of the day, on December 31, 2023. While in practice, the law did not live up to its billing. Cynthia Chandler, the policy chief for Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price and a lawyer who helped draft the reparations law is now saying:

Had I known that the Victim Compensation Board would define sterilization in a way that wasn’t based on “medical realities,” I would have written the legislation differently. 

When artist and art journalist Sally Jane Brown heard about this sunset in the law, she worked with women artists to help get the messaging out, “🌟CHAMPIONING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND ARTS LEADERSHIP: ANNA D. SMITH’S INSPIRING ADVOCACY & ARTISTS RESPONSE.” Later, she was advised of the findings to a year-long investigation by UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program and San Francisco’s Public Broadcasting Station KQED that the Victim Compensation Board had denied a majority of the applicants, “Survivors from California’s Period of Forced Sterilization Denied Reparations.”

Stand with the women denied justice

Purchase a Today We Are Sisters art print and amplify their voices – click on the image below 👇

Photography Prints

If interested in purchasing art prints of the original artwork – click on the image below 👇

Photography Prints