Reflections on New-Found Freedom

Eve and Linda after Linda's release
Eve and Linda after Linda’s release

While I was inside prison, I dreamed that freedom would bring a profound joy that knew no bounds. Holding my mother in my arms or just looking at her across a room after spending an entire day quietly reading together. Making love with my partner Eve for the first time ever, knowing the softness and passion of her touch. Walking through the indescribable majesty of the redwood forests, talking to trees that are thousands of years old. Seeing my friends in their own homes instead of across a table in the visiting room. Watching the constantly-changing ocean waves as they roll into infinity. Savoring the amazing tastes of a leaf of organic lettuce, a homegrown tomato, fresh-brewed (not instant!) coffee.
Certainly these experiences have brought me tremendous joy. But I have been surprised to feel so divided, so melancholy at times, and so full of grief. I was a political prisoner for nearly 16 years, locked up for fighting to change this government that is so racist, so corrupt, so thoroughly evil. Coming out onto the streets after so long, I see that conditions of life for almost everyone are far worse than ever before. The gap between those that have anything at all and those that have nothing, has widened into an unbridgeable chasm. So many people live on the streets with only a shopping cart and a tarp to cover them (if they’re lucky or resourceful). The reason I became a revolutionary in the first place, pledging my life to the fight for liberation, was to change these conditions — and yet our society has deteriorated unimaginably while I was inside. I think about the other political prisoners still inside, especially my comrade-sister Marilyn Buck — it’s nearly unbearable to me that I am free and they are not. I think of all my friends in prison at FCI-Dublin, especially the lifers who were dearest to me, and I grieve that they can’t feel the winds of freedom on their faces, unite once and for all with their children and families, make love and walk through the woods or their neighborhoods once again. Of course I am joyful to be free — but I am haunted and infuriated by the injustices of our whole society, and the prison system in particular. I won’t forget my sisters and brothers inside, and I won’t give up fighting until we win the changes we all so desperately need.