Decolonizing Wealth

Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance
Narrated by: Larry Herron
Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
5 out of 5 stars (172 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Decolonizing Wealth is a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance. Award-winning philanthropy executive Edgar Villanueva draws from the traditions from the Native way to prescribe the medicine for restoring balance and healing our divides. 

Though it seems counterintuitive, the philanthropic industry has evolved to mirror colonial structures and reproduces hierarchy, ultimately doing more harm than good. After 14 years in philanthropy, Edgar Villanueva has seen past the field’s glamorous, altruistic façade, and into its shadows: the old boy networks, the savior complexes, and the internalized oppression among the “house slaves”, and those select few people of color who gain access. All these funders reflect and perpetuate the same underlying dynamics that divide Us from Them and the haves from have-nots. In equal measure, he denounces the reproduction of systems of oppression while also advocating for an orientation towards justice to open the floodgates for a rising tide that lifts all boats. In the third and final section, Villanueva offers radical provocations to funders and outlines his Seven Steps for Healing.   

With great compassion - because the Native way is to bring the oppressor into the circle of healing - Villanueva is able to both diagnose the fatal flaws in philanthropy and provide thoughtful solutions to these systemic imbalances. Decolonizing Wealth is a timely and critical book that preaches for mutually assured liberation in which we are all inter-connected.

©2018 Edgar Villanueva (P)2018 Edgar Villanueva

Critic Reviews

Decolonizing Wealth offers a refreshing and inspired look at how wealth can better serve the needs of communities of color and atone for the ways in which it has traditionally been used to inflict harm and division. Using a solutions-oriented framing, Edgar makes a solid case for how Indigenous wisdom can be used as a guiding light to achieve greater equity in the funding and philanthropic world.” (Kevin Jennings, President, Tenement Museum)

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Great subject masterfully narrated

The author offers a powerful look into the world of philanthropy. The honesty and candor shared in this book are transformative and powerful for those truly committed to making real change in the world!

1 person found this helpful

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must-read for philanthropists

I enjoyed this book. As a cultural community organizer I found it useful. while it may be most geared towards philanthropists, it is definitely great for all people in non-profit work and involved with community.

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Healing the divides

This book opens one's mind open to transforming possibilities of connecting with others by laying out the past in a very precise and compelling way. The book was filled with as the author calls it "medicine" for healing what divides us. If you are up to even one-non-fiction book this is the one to read. Offers possibility hope and a better world in one book.

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Necessary!

This book is a must read for anyone who is in philanthropy or intersects with it in some way. Beautifully written story from Edgar Villanueva. Thank you for writing this book!

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Guide to breaking lose from colonialist patterns

This book uses eye opening statistics and interesting personal accounts to inform us on how the philanthropic institution propagates the white settler's colonialist society. Its combination of facts and personal stories makes it an entertaining read and the knowledge obtained is the first step toward change. Great book!

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Making Philanthropy Actually Care About People

Villanueva provides a needed reflection of the real nature of philanthrophy. He exposes how as a field that purports to help people it is typically transactional, not centered in relationships, founded on theft of land (and I would add, people) and exploitation, and continues colonialist and racist operations. He identifies how the sector can move away from its origins and dominant practices.
For the most part, I found much of his analysis and suggestions generative and stirring. Through reading this text I now have a better idea of alternative organizational methods and pragmatic ways reparations can begin.
However on a few critical points I found Villanueva's argument lacking. I think his analysis would be strenghtened through engaging the scholarship of Black studies scholars such as Hortense Spillers, Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, and Frank Wilderson. Sometimes his assertions are too reductive regarding the conditions of Black humanity and calls for reparations. I'd like to see what Villanueva''s plans for repair might include if he delved into the scholarship of the folks I mentioned. In bringing up decolonization he touches on Frantz Fanon. But immediately discounts Fanon's understanding of decolonization. I find Villanueva's swift move away from Fanon and by extension others who identify with Fanon's politics of refusal such as Indigenous scholar Glen Sean Coulthard highly problematic. Also, although I appreciate Villanueva's advocacy of the Indigenous worldview of reciprocity, I'm not buying into his "money as medicine" angle. I think that position discounts his call for "decolonization." It seems more like a reform position than a revolutionary or decolonial value. Good book overall. It probably pushes hard against the grain for books of the philantrophy field.

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A different Perspective on Wealth

I appreciated a new look at an old problem. It was very honest without blame and gave insight into the World view that is a huge component in the definition of the problem. I highly recommend it if you are interested in Social Justice.

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An Awakening Phenomena

I stumbled across this book searching the web researching philanthropy. I wanted to know the who, what, when and hows of the business. The information was riveting to my soul, To listen to this book knowing what I already knew about the struggles of failing small non-profit organizations gave me several "oh my" moments. The dynamics and the delivery of this book is phenomenal! Edgar did a great job explaining and teaching the dark side of Philanthropy and what we all need to do to begin fixing it. Buy it now!

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Why do we let people with money have power?

Edgar Villanueva is a Native American philanthropist (despite his working class upbringing). This book is written primarily for other philanthropists.

Villanueva asks a lot of great questions about wealth, power, and racism. Why do we give people with money power in philanthropy (as opposed to ceding this power to those most intimate with the problems)? White supremacy is a big part of the way that philanthropy works.

Villanuava calls out the foundations that ignore the externalities caused by their return-chasing endowments. He also speaks to the importance of grieving—something we generally don't hear a lot about in the workplace.

This book feels to me like a bit of a companion text to Anand Giridharadas' "Winners Take All."

The title oversells the book for me. Although Villanueva covers a lot of ground in the book, I don't think he accomplishes the task of describing what it might look like to decolonize wealth.

I also take serious issue with his claim that money is neutral. Evolution in this arena requires a nuanced language and understanding surrounding the numerous role money play, and the many flavors in which it comes. For example, using gold as money has significant social implications, as opposed to the US dollar or time banking.

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Eye opening

I was unaware of the world of philanthropy before reading this book. It makes decolonization appear easier than I thought previously. Too good to be true? But the stories about alternative concepts of wealth and value are worth it.