Last week, Sarah Jane Baker celebrated her 100th day as a free woman, having served 30 years in men’s prisons. At the time of her release, she was the world’s longest serving trans prisoner. Here she offers us a message of hope and solidarity for the new year.
During the 30 years in which I was in prison, a lot of things changed. But a lot also stayed the same. The poor are still getting poorer, and the rich are still getting richer. Public assets are still being sold off to the highest bidder and right-wing movements are still attempting to divide working class communities.
We are at a time in history when many people are feeling afraid and angry, and are looking for someone to blame for their poverty-stricken lives. I say to you: do not look to migrants, who have given their blood, sweat and tears for this country for over 300 years. We are not poor, we are not impoverished, we are not without opportunity because of immigration. It is because of government policy and an economy that simply does not work for the poor and the vulnerable. We need, as a country, to find an alternative to unrestrained capitalism; a way of living that will allow for sustainable progress for people across the globe.
The one silver-lining of yet another Tory government is that it will hopefully inject left-wing movements with a shot of adrenaline. Across the globe, we’ve seen young men, women and non-binary people put down their Xbox controllers and take an interest in the world around them. To this younger generation I say: this is your world, take control of it and shape your own future. Do not allow self-serving power-hungry charlatans to convince you that there is no alternative. Take the country by the scruff of the neck and give it the shake that it so desperately needs.
To the veterans of the movement: I want you to know that all the struggles you’ve endured, all the protests you took part in and all the incremental changes that you’ve made within your communities were not wasted. Your determination, your desire for societal change was not for nothing.
To all those who have supported and taken care of me since my release in Sept 2019, I thank you with all my heart. In particular, I’d like to thank: Pam Stockwell, Carl Cattermole, Alva, Peta Kennedy, Ezra Little, Rufus Everson, Kelsey, Fran Mei, the IWOC, the Anarchist Black Cross, Campaign against Prison Expansion, Callum and Lucy, Kai and Billie, Matt @ 56a Infoshop, Joseph Galliano and my hero, Nic Aaron.
In love and solidarity,
Sarah Jane Baker
Photo creidt: Angela Christofilou