A year ago, on my birthday, I spent hours waiting for a turn to speak at a meeting of Philadelphia City Council’s Poverty Committee. The topics were education and the workforce, and I was there to shed light on the pending roll out of decentralized digital learning ecosystems, surveillance education, and human capital bonds tied to a planned regional workforce and career pathway profiling. There were numerous attempts made to shut down public comment that night, in general and mine in particular. I had no idea that three months later, public health would be weaponized as a trigger to turbo-charge their agenda. Blogged here.
So, when a rather last minute invitation was extended a week ago Friday to speak at an event protesting lockdowns at Independence Mall I was intrigued. The planned date was my birthday, which felt auspicious. So I called the person who’d emailed right away, and we had a long chat. My lens is not typical, and I wanted to make sure the event was aligned with my values. I didn’t want to present anywhere that was not a good fit. The woman assured me she’d been involved with progressive activism for decades. I shared my concerns that their slogan “Make Freedom Contagious” with Independence Mall as the backdrop might not strike the right tone, especially in Philadelphia. After ringing off with her I went back to my computer and clicked through to look over their flyer.
For me this flyer has serious issues.
I’ll tell you why.
I’m doing this NOT to be divisive.
I’m doing it, because it’s important.
This upheaval has presented all of us with chances to grow.
I offer the following analysis in the hope that it may serve to catalyze a movement against tyranny firmly grounded in justice.
To fight digital slavery and dispossession, we must be clear on the past.
The fate of Indigenous nations and enslaved Blacks is the fate of white America under the terms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
With this understanding we can advance powerful strategies of resistance.
As a Philadelphian it is my responsibility to speak up.
I want us to rise together, in truth and in love.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin.
First, this flyer channels nationalism. We know transnational global capital interests through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are perpetrating the “Great Reset” against humanity and nature. If you’re still not sure, check out the 2,000+ practitioners of ESG investments at the Impact Management Project. We are up against the most powerful hoarders of wealth on the planet. Their avarice and access to elected officials knows no bounds. The rich don’t have borders. Companies don’t have borders. Borders are for managed populations, livestock. To the Davos crowd, we are livestock to be tagged and managed by satellite from space.
The technological, financial, and policy apparatus that will scale this agenda has been refined through “humanitarian aid” channels and social impact pilots targeting the poor here at home. Life on the planet will not be served by humans retreating into our respective borders, but rather by our intentional choice to look outward and join in solidarity with those who have been most oppressed by the IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment programs and ongoing colonization. With the planned mRNA injections that colonization is now advancing to the cellular level.
It is those who have suffered the most who are leading the way in throwing up roadblocks to the implementation of the global prison planet. The farmers’ uprising in India is a testament to that. They are on the front lines standing against the roll out of Rockefeller’s planned reset of the food system. One that would use bioengineering and abominations like 3-D printed “food” aligned to our genomics on blockchain to optimize us, dehumanize us, to their industrially engineered society.
Until we recognize that we are part of a rich, complex web of relationships with all of humanity, in fact with ALL BEINGS, we will not prevail in our quest to overcome the World Economic Forum’s techno-fascist program. While it may be comforting to pull Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin out of the closet, I think patriotic framing is insufficient for the task at hand and will ultimately lead us down the wrong road.
We are in the midst of an epic struggle. Will natural life prevail against the billionaires’ plans to push us into the machine, into virtual reality where they will digitally nudge us and bet on our compliance? We don’t have vast numbers of resistors right now. What we DO have is SPIRIT. Therefore, it is vital that we be very intentional about advancing our cause from the heart space.
To do that, many Americans are going to have to undertake deep internal work. That isn’t going to be easy, especially since the media has conditioned us into nationalist boxes and partisan ones, too. Please know I am not coming at this from a position of identity politics. In order for this to work, we have to go much deeper – a soul-searching really, a reflection on faith and the future. It will take time. Time to see and grieve and process the guilt and get to a point that you are not immobilized by it. I know. I started this journey three years ago in a whirlwind of realizing this planned future, watching the raid on Standing Rock, finding Justin Leroy’s work on Social Impact Bonds, knowing the place of my city in all of it extending from Wharton Business School all the way back to Ben Franklin. There is no short cut but to do it. And since time is short, best to jump in with both feet. Know we are with you supporting you along this challenging journey. Take a deep breath. Go deep.
Independence National Park is a highly symbolic space. Consider that the ideals of freedom and liberty have never been fully extended to the Black and Brown people upon whose lives and lands this country became rich and powerful. That was by design. It was not a mistake. And just as our nation left a trail of broken treaties with Indigenous nations, our Constitution is becoming a broken treaty with white America. As John Trudell notes in his poem, Cry Your Tears, “way this story is unfolding, we may end up crying together.”
White people are not exceptional; we are expendable. That is what the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in the process of ushering in. The civil rights we thought we had are about to be superseded by a digital wallet of “rights” and “privileges” governed by blockchain smart contracts. Everyone will be a data commodity – a digital brand – white, black, brown, or indigenous. Those in power will seek to play us off against one another, and sadly it seems to be working well for them so far.
The Fourth Sector, public-private partnerships, corporate fascist state, is on the ascent. The deep state steeped in the founding fathers’ freemasonry has brought chickens home to roost. We have to attain clarity about our past, about what really happened, in order to advocate for a future where the lives of ALL humans are cherished as sovereign, natural beings, not debt instruments. In my heart I know we can’t go forward until we look back. We must look back with intention to set things right and start down the path towards collective healing.
When I first moved to Philadelphia I was captivated by its colonial architecture and the narrative of enlightened progress. But I know now those were myths. It was only in pursuing activism around education and finance that I came to learn all was not as it appeared. Admittedly, I still have much to learn and am grateful to my many teachers. I give thanks to elders like Mama Gail and Jackie Wiggins who fight to surface histories that discomfort the comfortable. Had I not come to know these women and their steadfast efforts to honor the ancestors and link present injustices to past harms, I would not be prepared to do the work I feel called to do today.
Tourists enjoying carriage rides through the cobblestone streets of Independence National Park are rarely told there is a rich fabric of ongoing resistance to social domination threaded through the crumbling, redlined neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Resistance asserted through music, through oration, through documentation, through bodies on the line. William Still, WEB DuBois, Paul Robeson, John Coltrane, Marian Anderson, Cecil B. Moore, MOVE, and Russell Maroon Shoatz are among the many who have left their marks on this city. Their stories spin out against a backdrop of inequality created by our founding fathers’ word spells. When resisting slavery we must think carefully about which role models we choose. Are we to side with the enslavers or the enslaved? The choice matters; the intention matters. It is not a question to be lightly brushed aside.
Most don’t know the history, because it’s not taught. I’m sure the organizers of this event had no idea that 50 feet from the spot where the speakers presented, was the site of the first President’s House where George Washington kept nine people enslaved. I told them, of course. I spoke with several people about it. Yet, the messaging did not change. We can choose to grow or shrink back into old paradigms. There’s always a choice.
Even when we misstep, we can course correct.
Below are images from a ceremonial procession a group of us made on Saturday December 5, 2020. The “Contagious Freedom” event had been postponed due to weather. We went out to the space to set an intention that would lift up the stories of Washington’s slaves. We lay down our banners, acknowledged Lenape land, and shared a circle of gratitude. We each took a pebble with the name of a slave and set it against the wall where it could be reflected into the “free speech” space, and then took small bundles of evergreens and placed them on the mantle.
We said their names: Hercules, Richmond, Paris, Moll, Ona, Christopher, Giles, Joe, and Austin. We spoke in appreciation of their memory and the role they had to play in the story that is unfolding. We closed with a reading of John Trudell’s poem Cry Your Tears, which includes the line: “The bill of rights becomes collateral damage, making the constitution another broken treaty.” Trudell, indeed, was a prophetic voice for our times.
Philadelphia was a city of free Blacks, and if a slave resided in the city for a certain period of time they had the right to petition for their freedom through Pennsylvania’s 1780 emancipation law. The first president of the United States was so calculating that he planned to move his human chattel back and forth to Mount Vernon so they could never become free. One of his slaves, the seamstress Ona Judge, escaped before being sold to an abusive new master. Though she made it to New Hampshire the Washington family paid informants to try and trick her, unsuccessfully, into coming back.
Here is an excerpt from a letter, now at the National Archives, written by George Washington in April 12, 1791 before moving to Philadelphia:
The Attorney-General’s case and mine I conceive, from a conversation I had with him respecting our Slaves, is somewhat different. He in order to qualify himself for practice in the Courts of Pennsylvania, was obliged to take the Oaths of Citizenship to that State; whilst my residence is incidental as an Officer of Government only, but whether among people who are in the practice of enticing slaves even where there is no colour of law for it, this distinction will avail, I know not, and therefore beg you will take the best advise you can on the subject, and in case it shall be found that any of my Slaves may, or any for them shall attempt their freedom at the expiration of six months, it is my wish and desire that you would send the whole, or such part of them as Mrs. Washington may not chuse to keep, home—
For although I do not think they would be benefitted by the change, yet the idea of freedom might be too great a temptation for them to resist. At any rate it might, if they conceived they had a right to it, make them insolent in a State of Slavery. As all except Hercules and Paris are dower negroes, it behoves me to prevent the emancipation of them, otherwise I shall not only loose the use of them, but may have them to pay for.
If upon taking good advise it is found expedient to send them back to Virginia, I wish to have it accomplished under pretext that may deceive both them and the Public;—and none I think would so effectually do this, as Mrs. Washington coming to Virginia next month (towards the middle or latter end of it, as she seemed to have a wish to do) if she can accomplish it by any convenient and agreeable means, with the assistance of the Stage Horses &c.
This would naturally bring her maid and Austin—and Hercules under the idea of coming home to Cook whilst we remained there, might be sent on in the Stage. Whether there is occasion for this or not according to the result of your enquiries, or issue the thing as it may, I request that these Sentiments and this advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington.
From the following expression in your letter “that those who were of age might follow the example of his (the Attorney’s people) after a residence of six months”—it would seem that none could apply before the end of May—& that the non age of Christopher, Richmond & Oney is a bar to them.vI offer Mrs. Lear the child and yourself my best wishes—and with Sincere Esteem I am Your Affecte Friend (George Washington)
So consider this letter. Also consider that Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, had sexual relations with Sally Hemings, his slave, from the age of fourteen when they travelled to Paris. Hemings was the caretaker of Jefferson’s youngest daughter. In discussing a new exhibit on Hemings at Monticello, a 2018 New York Times article “Monticello Is Done Avoiding Jefferson’s Relationship With Sally Hemings,” noted:
“At a time when sexual abuses by powerful men have dominated the news, curators struggled for months over how to describe the relationship between Hemings and Jefferson — and in particular whether to use the word “rape” in the exhibit. The foundation held conference calls and meetings with historians, board members and descendants to discuss the question.
“There are a lot of people who believe rape is too polarizing a word,” said Niya Bates, a public historian at Monticello. “But it was a conversation that we knew we could not avoid. It’s a conversation the public is already having.”
In the end, historians opted to use the word “rape” with a question mark, knowing that some would criticize them for including the word, while others would have criticized them for leaving it out.
The question is asked on a plaque on the wall outside the Hemings exhibit titled “Sex, Power and Ownership.” It spells out the power dynamic between the two: Under Virginia law, Hemings was Jefferson’s property.”
HEMINGS WAS JEFFERSON’S PROPERTY.
Beyond stolen bodies, our nation’s wealth was built on land often fraudulently acquired. The settler predisposition towards taking advantage of the good will of indigenous people is exemplified in “The Walking Purchase” – Philadelphia has ties here, too. This agreement was hammered out at Stenton, home of James Logan in Germantown a few miles northwest of Independence National Park.
After William Penn’s death, his sons, deeply in debt, sought to acquire more land they could sell to immigrants to pay their bills. They told the Delaware that their father had purchased land along the river, but had not yet paid for it, lacking a proper survey. An arrangement was made through Penn’s agent James Logan that the colonists would have the amount of land that could be walked in a day and a half. What the Delaware did not know was that representatives of the Penn family had been preparing for this for months – surveying the land for the fastest route and arranging for runners who had extensively trained for this task. The amount of land covered that day was twice what the Delaware had expected.
The following except is taken from the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission’s description of the Walking Purchase.
“The Delaware’s charged that the deal was fraud. It is very likely that the reason for the Indian’s ignorance of the 1686 deal is that it never happened. Logan could not produce an original copy of the deed, nor does the sale appear in Pennsylvania’s provincial land records. Consequently the outraged Delawares refused to leave the land, and the Pennsylvania officials called on the Iroquois to force them out. This they did in 1741, informing the Delaware that as a people who accepted rule by the Iroquois they had not right to sell the land in the first place. The Iroquois rounded out their ultimatum with insults, calling the Delaware “women.”
The deed and the Walking Purchase that implemented it were revealing. Certainly a person more skilled in the English language than any Native American of the time had prepared the document, but it included not only English legal terminology but also typical Native American phrases that showed respect for elders and their own primitive way of calculating distances. More important is what they disclose concerning the attitude of the Europeans – the Proprietors and their officials – towards the Indians. William Penn’s sons John and Thomas, as well as James Logan, indicated clearly that they had abandoned William Penn’s policy of fairness towards Native Americans. They seemed to have had no qualms about using one group of Indians to cheat another out of its land.”
Land theft, fraud, and slavery were the norm with the Constitution in place. The Constitution did not protect Harriet Tubman, nor did it protect Sitting Bull. The Constitution was not written for them. To our “enlightened” leaders they only mattered as objects in so far as they could be controlled for the financial gain of those in power. Now, with the dawning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is our turn to walk in their footsteps, and it’s scary.
In the face of this terror it perhaps feels easier to hold onto myth rather than venture out and create a new reality; even though what we most need right now is a NEW reality. We’re either going to accept one imposed on us by Davos or fight for our own vision. Therefore it is vital that we critically reflect on the ideals of American “liberty” and “freedom” that have been embedded in our consciousness as we go forth.
After leaving the president’s house site, our small group walked north to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Building on 6th Street. At the end of the block was a marker telling the history of Pennsylvania Hall, a building built by abolitionists for their organizing and burned down three days after completion by anti-Black rioters. Left as a ruin for a year it became a pilgrimage site for those fighting slavery in nineteenth-century Philadelphia.
Outside the gates we burned sage from Lakota land, we held our banner, and took turns reading the lyrics of Utah Phillips song “I Will Not Obey.” We lay down dried branches as a rebuke of the dead, digital twin world being offered to us by hedge funds / virtual reality coders and lay down evergreen boughs symbolizing vibrant life on top of them. We revoked consent to our participation and that of future generations in the central banks’ human capital bond program. We closed by singing Simple Gifts and continued on to the home of William Still, conductor on the Underground Railroad.
William Still helped 692 enslaved people to escape to freedom and sheltered some of John Brown’s men after the raid on Harper’s Ferry. He was a free Black man and small business owner who took it upon himself to not only save people, but to write down their stories, so they could be reunited with their families. Harriet Tubman was a friend who visited the house. When we arrived a pool of water from rain the night before was cupped in the dip of the limestone step. Even though the façade of the house has been made over, the depression of thousands of feet can still be seen in that step, in that puddle. We put our fingers in the water and touched history.
At the end of Delhi Street is a Whole Foods, now owned by Bezos. Resetting the food system, of course, is a major element in the Fourth Industrial Revolution / social impact agenda. So it was satisfying to be able to set an intention on Delhi Street within sight of the store. We sprinkled lentils around the base of the sign post and held hands, eyes closed, sending our positive energy across the oceans to the millions of farmers gathered in peaceful protest in the real Delhi. Amazing synchronicity. We read an essay prepared by Mark Bignell of the UK for the solstice. We acknowledged the importance of William Still and the relevance of his work as many revisit the need for networks of support for those dissenting against the biosecurity state. We closed with Amazing Grace.
There was not the fanfare of a big protest event, but it offers a model centering spirit, right relationships, healing, and empowerment through an intimate gathering of like minds and like hearts. Resistance takes many forms. It was beautiful. It was one of the best birthday presents ever. Most of us had never met before. Crisis can bring us together in community.
In order to follow the path towards collective liberation, we must be willing to face up to our past. We can’t sweep it under the rug. We can’t pretend it doesn’t matter. It matters. And yet we must not let shame paralyze us into inaction. Let it put a fire in our belly to walk the road towards freedom in deference to those who have been living this struggle for centuries.
Know the flip side of the “enlightenment;” know cultural erasure; know family separation; know theft of economic independence – and in that knowledge be strong. If we can see this work that must be done, the creator has given us the gift of living our lives at a time when the choices we make truly matter. Let those choices be principled ones.
Maybe Philadelphia will get a do-over.
Perhaps this is our moment!
I posted on my social media this week:
I’m no patriot. I’m a mom who hopes to be part of a global peace movement that will begin to dismantle fin-tech’s prison planet infrastructure. It is our charge to face the bitter truths of history and begin to heal past wounds to make a better future for all.
Care to join us?
Let’s talk over soup and sewing at my place this Saturday 12/12/20. Drop in between noon and 4pm. We’ll have a fire in the woodstove.
Email me through the blog for this address if you’re in the Philadelphia area and want to come.