“What ails philanthropy at its core is colonialism. Almost without exception, funders reinforce the colonial division of Us vs. Them, Haves vs. Have Nots, and mostly white saviors and white experts vs. poor, needy, urban, disadvantaged, marginalized, at-risk people,” writes Edgar Villanueva.
For today’s episode, we hear from Edgar about his book Decolonizing Wealth, wherein he argues that American wealth and philanthropy have roots in colonialism and racism. Throughout the conversation, he talks about Native identity and “urban Indians,” medicine in the indigenous worldview (and how money can be medicine), wealth creation and the harm done to communities of color, the disproportionate influence of the wealthy on public and political life, and alternatives to the current philanthropy industry.
Edgar Villanueva currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Native Americans in Philanthropy and is a board member of the Andrus Family Fund, a national foundation that works to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth. He is the author of Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance (Berrett-Koehler, 2018) and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.