– Um, Edgar’s book has already been really important for
me, in helping to inform the Sillerman Center’s work. Our mission is to inform and advance social justice philanthropy And I’m just gonna give
out one Sillerman shout-out to Denise Porche, over here, who did not want me to do a shout-out. (people laugh) This is Denise Porche and she’ll be teaching a class this Spring called Practicing for Social
Justice Philanthropy. And many of the things
that will get brought up and surface today are gonna be covered in the class next Spring, so I
encourage all of you to take it. Um, so it’s my great honor today, um, to introduce our
guest, Edgar Villanueva, whose book, “Decolonizing
Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance,” is a searing, discomforting,
and I would say, wholly original critique of philanthropy and the public finance; but at the same time, this book offers a warm invitation and a road map for a
journey toward healing, towards social justice,
and transformation. This is a book that is rooted
in intelligence and insight, by moved experience on both
sides of the wealth divide, and ultimately, it seems to
me, by faith and by love. And I just wanna thank you for writing it. Um, from a young age, Edgar Villanueva, knew he would devote himself to ministry, medicine, and to being of service. Edgar, too, is a proud
enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, as well as a Southerner, two lineages from which he says he, quote, “inherited the love of storytelling and a strong devotion to community.” To the ends of service to
community and to healing, he earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Jackson College of Ministries
in Jackson, Mississippi, and later, a Bachelor of
Science in Public Health, and a Master’s Degree
in Health Administration from the University of North Carolina’s Gillings Global School of Public Health. Over time, he found his
way to philanthropy, a field named for the love of humankind. For the past 14 years, he has given away tens of millions of dollars, mostly to communities
in the United States, where most of the people earn low incomes. Today, Edgar Villanueva is Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation
for Public Education, which is based here in
Boston and New York. He’s also chair of the
Board of Native Americans in Philanthropy and
regularly advises people with high net worth and
other funding institutions on how to allocate resources more equally. He’s a frequent, much-sought-after
speaker at conferences, that bring together
philanthropists and practitioners in the fields of public finance. He’s also an instructor
at The Grantmaking School at the Johnson Center at
Grand Valley State University. He’s held leadership roles
of numerous foundation boards and advisory committees. In 2010, Edgar was selected
for the inaugural class of the Terrence Keenan
Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy Fellowship Program, designed to cultivate the next generation of philanthropic leadership. And in June 2014, Native
Americans in Philanthropy, awarded Edgar the Flying Eagle Award, recognizing his many
years in community-led, culturally-inspired leadership. Please join me in giving Edgar Villanueva a warm Heller School welcome. (applause) – Thank you so much. Should I film this
microphone or am I good? – You’re good.
– Okay, alright, great. Hi Everyone! – [Audience] Hi! – So, I’m so excited to
be here with you today. Um, I kinda feel like
coming back to school. (people laugh)
I was telling Jarvis and some of the others that I kinda don’t miss being in school. (people laugh) But being here today
makes me sort of reminisce on being a college student. So, enjoy it while you can. Thanks for coming out. I know you only came
for the free sandwich, but we’re gonna make this fun, um, and hopefully you’ll
leave today more enlightened and excited about thinking about how this might support your
work, whatever that may be. So, uh, where I’m from in North Carolina, the Lumbee Tribe, we do have a question when we greet each other in the community, we say, “who’s your people?” Um, and it’s almost like we’re
trying to imagine, you know, this huge family tree and we have to put you on the right branch or twig, you know, size you up. We even sell T-shirts that say “who’s your people?” where I’m from. (people laugh) So, um, yes, my people
are Native American, but I hate to disappoint some of you, um, just because I’m Native,
I cannot catch a deer with my bare hands. I cannot build a canoe, because my identity as a Native
American is very complicated in this country, due to our
history of colonization. And I’ll talk about
that a little bit more. I am gonna put my timer
on because, as you heard, I’m from the South and I’m Native. I’m all the things that
are wrong with this, so … (people laugh) So, I’m gonna put that
there so we have a chance for more conversation and Q & A. Um, so, my uh, I’ve been on a journey. This book took me about two years to write and this journey was
sort of an opportunity to decolonize my own thinking, my own mind around this work. Um, as Susan said, I’ve
worked in philanthropy, institutional philanthropy, for 14 years. And being in that space
of concentrated wealth and privilege, and
whiteness, um, you know, after a number of years you
begin to kind of lose sight of who you are, and especially feelings
of forced assimilation to that particular culture. And so, I physically began to get sick. I felt just completely disconnected about, you know, with my life
and this illusion about, you know, doing this work,
which we have the mission of social justice and philanthropy
and changing the world, but it was really actually
a hard work to do. And I felt like there
were systems and processes and people around me that, you know, were really
perpetuating inequality, actually, and actually destabilizing communities, versus trying to help communities. And so, I went on a journey
in writing this book to reconnect to my
culture, and I spent time with some elders in my
community in North Carolina to really just remember, just remember who I was and remember
that indigenous wisdom and the values about what does it really mean to be Native and to be in community with people? What does it mean to be, what does philanthropy
actually really mean? No one in my community knew what that word actually meant. Um and so, uh, I, you know,
I dug a little deeper around, what does it mean to actually be in a reciprocal
relationship, to really care for one another as human beings? And some of this advice was so practical and just grounding, but I worked to, um, apply that wisdom and that knowledge from my community into this book, to apply to the social sector, and to non-profits and philanthropy. So, um, I want to talk a little about, uh, about trauma and what the accumulation of wealth has done to us in this country, because our history of
colonization in this country, um, and the accumulation of wealth is just steeped in trauma. It’s just steeped in trauma. And in my community, my, our culture, we have what we call, sort of, The Rule of Seven Generations. And that means, whatever I do today, the decisions that I
make, are going to impact generations, you know, seven
generations out, right? That’s a huge responsibility. Like, imagine, like,
everything I’m doing now is going to impact seven
generations of people. And so, in my community, and
particular Native communities, there’s a lot of trauma, because as with, you know,
I think as you said, Maria, the colonization is, you know, we think of
as a historical thing, something that happened
500, 200 years ago, but it’s something that’s happening as recent as last night, right? And so we are just re-traumatizing and you know, we have this circle of trauma, that is just moving forward all the time, and so, um, you know, I’m calling out
the accumulation of wealth, and it’s role and it has played in traumatizing communities. And philanthropy, in particular, right? This is a, philanthropy,
sounds like a loving word. Charity. Um, the veneer of it all, is very, is something that feels heartfelt; but underneath that, uh,
you know, that veneer, there are shadows that I
talk about in the book. There is a dark side to that work that is, that is not, that is not just, and that is not fair. In particular, when you
think about the $800 billion that foundations control,
that they’re sitting on, who gets to decide, you know,
where that money’s going? How is it invested? Who is benefiting from those resources? When you look at that information, there’s a lot of unjust
things happening there. So, those are some of the
things I’m gonna talk about. So, when people talk about
reforming philanthropy, y’all talk about that in your classes, in some of these classes? Talk about reforming things, right? So you probably talk about the need for long-term general operating to support, possibly reforming the tax code, um, looking at funding priorities and how side-loaded the sector is. These are all things
that need to be reformed, and I support that. But really, what I’m pushing for is for
us to dig a little bit deeper, and beyond thinking
about payout percentages, to what I call the colonizing virus. Okay? And so, I’m gonna talk about
that a little bit more, but what is a colonizing virus? The colonizing virus is
something that has invaded every aspect of our communities, every aspect of our beings
and our interactions. It’s something that has,
um, gone unexamined, especially in philanthropy, and especially in the realm of wealth. And again, it goes back to
looking at how the wealth was accumulated in the first place, right? Through our history of colonization, the history of racism,
money that was built, you know, earned on the
backs of a free slave labor, from stolen lands and genocide. Um, because we see what’s happening now, where I say that the
colonizing virus is still, you know, is showing
up in our institutions, is because those institutions
that have the wealth now, are not giving the money
to communities of color. So $800 billion, remember that number, it’s a lot of money, right? Um, foundations are
only required to pay out 5% of that money, right? So there’s 95% of the money that is being further invested to accumulate
more and more wealth; only five percent of that money is being granted out into the community. Now, when we look at the 5% of the money, the crumbs that are being
put out into the community, um, only 8%, in our best year, about eight and a half, 8% of that money is going
into communities of color. So that’s really unjust, right? Most people don’t know that. So, if you think about
the role that people of color have played, and
indigenous folks have played, in helping to accumulate this wealth, and now we are not, we’re only getting a small percentage of that
5% in our communities. And often, that data, when
you look at it even further, is not going to, uh, POC
led organizations, right? It can go to a main, white, a mainstream white organization, um, that is working in communities of color. So, we have a lot of work to do. You know, we’re talking about equity all the time in philanthropy now. We have a lot of work to do to really get to a place of the true equity. Because, you see, when it comes to getting or giving access to money, um, white folks are
really still in charge, and the sad truth of the
book, but take it from me, if you’re talking about philanthropy, venture capital, banking and finance, even municipal bonds, all the institutions that control access to money, it’s mostly 85 to 90% and
higher, um, led by people, uh, led by white people,
and most often, white men. And so when that is the case,
there’s a dominant frame that’s perpetuated in
these institutions, right? Because what do you know about giving? We give to who we know. We give who is in our network. And if you are part of
a very privileged class, um, if you come from a wealthy background, you may not have a lot of
proximity to people of color, or to the issues that
are, you know, that we see happening in communities and therefore, you are gonna be disconnected
from giving in those spaces. So with this book, I talk about, um, how money can be medicine. Okay, what do I mean by medicine? Um, I did go to school for Public Health, and I worked in a health
foundation for a number of years, but I don’t necessarily
mean Western medicine. I’m talking about an indigenous
framework around medicine. And so we believe, in my culture, that anything that brings you balance, that restores hope, that
makes you feel good, can be medicine, right? And so, have you ever had
a bad day, for example, and you’re like, ugh,
lemme, I’m just gonna call this certain friend and
we’ll just, you know, he-he on the phone and, you
know, they’ll make me laugh and I’ll feel better, right? Like, we’ve all got that friend, right? So, I, uh, that, that friend
is like your medicine, that’s something that makes you feel, like, okay, now, you
know, I’m gonna regroup, and continue throughout this crazy day. So, what we believe in our community, the elders say that you
don’t choose the medicine, but the medicine chooses you. And so, for me, being Native,
being from, of, you know, very poor, low-resource
community of North Carolina, the Lumbee Tribe, for me to
accept the fact that money, um, is my medicine, was something that was hard for me to accept. And, um, you know, for years
I’ve been doing this work, and I tried to get away a
couple times (chuckles), but I keep finding myself
back in this space. And it’s become, the elders said to me that you don’t choose the medicine, the medicine chooses you. So, one, I want you to think
about, what is your medicine? What is your calling? Why has, why are you here? You know, what is your,
what is your calling in? What is your view or your
tool or your offering that is gonna help bring, restore balance back to our communities? So, for me it is money. And, you know, I was talking to Jarvis earlier, we share a background
of, one, Mississippi, where I went to seminary,
we both went to seminary. And when I learned that
money was my medicine, I, I was like, isn’t money evil? Uh, you know, isn’t money dirty or filthy? Um, the Bible says something
along those lines, right? And when I realized later, you know, the Bible does not say that money is evil, the Bible says the love of
money is the root of all evil, and so that means when
we place value on money that is more, you know,
more important than life, we place value on money
where it’s more important than relationships, more
important than humanity, then that is evil. And that’s sort of the history
that we have in this country: we have prioritized
accumulating wealth over people; we’ve prioritized accumulating wealth over resources in the land. And so, you know, so,
but money, back to money, because I want us to,
like, go easy on money. Money is not evil, right? Remember it’s the love
of money that is evil. And so the money actually,
I wanna make the case that money can be neutral, right? Money is, uh, it’s just, you know, it’s paper, it’s coins, it’s data, it’s zeros and ones. It’s imaginary in some ways. It’s actually harmless. And so, if money is then neutral, could we flip the script on money? If the accumulation of
wealth has caused trauma and pain and separation and
exploitation and division, could we actually think about using money and wealth in a way that reverses that, that repairs that, that trauma, that brings us back into relationship, that helps us reconnect to one another? I make the case that it can. Alright, so, I wanna talk about
colonization for a minute, let me check my time here. Let me check my time cause my … I learned in seminary you’ve
gotta watch your time. (people laugh) So, I wanna talk about colonization because decolonization and colonization, these have become my really
tricky words, right, recently. Um, and um, you know, two years ago when I started writing
this book I didn’t know that colonization within decolonization would become, sort of, household words. Thank you, Black Panther. (laughter) And, um, so, that is really helpful. So let’s talk about
colonization for a minute, because, folks, we really wanna
understand what that means. So, it seems relatively normal because our history books are full of it, right? And we uh, we, we think of
colonizers as, as heroic. I was at birch-mor earlier this year, how many have been to the bush-mah before? Right? Statues everywhere, right? There’s a lot of pride in their, their efforts to colonize the world. It was a little weird for me. And so, colonization is
a little bit different from conquering, right? When you conquer a place, you
go in, you kill the people, you take their stuff and you leave, right? But with colonization,
you actually stay there. You take their stuff and you stay there, and you force the
existing indigenous people to become you, right? It’s like a zombie invasion, right? Like you, you literally just
stay, you take over everything, and then you force people to become you. That’s what colonization is, right? And so we have such a rampant
history in this country, and, you know, recent history. You know about Indian boarding schools. So my, my community has, you know, people my grandparent’s age
were taken away from their homes and forced into Indian boarding schools, where you were not allowed
to speak the language, you were not allowed, you
know, you were stripped of culture, you were punished. The mantra of the Indian
boarding schools was to kill the Indian, save the man, right? And so this type of
division and conquering, controlling, exploiting,
all of this is connected to the idea of accumulating wealth. So this colonizer virus
that we talked about, shows up in our culture. It shows up in our institutions. Our education system
reflects a colonizer virus. Our food system reflects
a colonizer virus. Our foreign policy. Our environmental policy. And especially in philanthropy,
investment and finance, we see the colonizer virus at work. So, what do we do about it? So, decolonization, obviously
means the, you know, the opposite, or undoing, of colonization. So, taken literally, decolonization means that the land that was
stolen is given back, all the sovereignty is
reinstated to indigenous peoples, and, um, you know, and all
of the social structures, traditions, everything is
just reinstated and undone. Um, I’m of the camp that,
that type of decolonization is probably not possible. And I think that’s, uh,
you know, we think about decolonization in that literal way, we get stuck at the political process. But what we can do is this: we can look at that trauma,
the trauma that has been caused by 500 years of colonization, and then think about how
can we begin to heal; is there a collective healing
process that we can focus on? And this means that, in doing that, our, we have to come to a place to understand that our interdependence is inescapable. We are all connected. Someone just drank some of my water and said that we were relatives, and I was like, we are relatives (laughs). We are all connected. You shouldn’t drink each
other’s water (mumbles), (people laugh) it’s flu season. But, um, you know, I think that, you know, my way forward is really
acknowledging the trauma that we all have coming into this country and exploring whether or not there is a collective
healing path forward. Now what I want you to
understand when you think about trauma and colonization and all that, we often think only people of color, but what I’ve learned
in writing this book, is that white folks,
actually, also have trauma as a result of colonization. The trauma of colonization, you know, has been harmful to people of color, indigenous folks, and white folks. Alright, so that, um, that’s
just a little bit on that, and I’m gonna skip ahead
here because I wanna get into some juicy
conversation with this panel. What I want to talk about, in
terms of the healing process, in closing here, I do outline in the book, seven steps to healing. And how did I come up with
these magical seven steps, okay? Is it that easy? I wish, right? One, the publisher forced me to. (people laugh) Every good book has a quick, you know, (snaps fingers) what are seven steps? But let me talk about, let me talk about what these steps mean. For me, personally, I
shared that, uh, you know, some of my own trauma and
identity crisis of being Native, being from a tribe in North Carolina that is not federally
recognized, you know, growing up in the 80s, you
were black, white, or other, and I checked the “other” box. And then imagine being
“other”-ized, in that way, but that particular box is, like, under threat all the time. Like, we may be recognized,
we may not be recognized; these people think I’m black, these people say that we’re white; we’re just pretending to be, right? So there’s a lot of, a lot going on in that “other” box. And so my, my, my own
trauma, um, you know, growing up in that way and then, you know, finding myself in this
extremely privileged place, where I hold the key to the treasure box. Let me be clear about the $130 million I’ve given away: it
was not my money, okay? (people laugh) It was not my money. And so, you know, I, um, being in that space
felt good though, right? Like, I came from, I didn’t have power, I didn’t have prestige. All of a sudden I was, like, at the table. I was invited to stuff. I got a good salary. Um, but when I learned I had to give up, uh, you know, what felt like the most
important parts of myself, um, that was really traumatizing for me. So, part of the steps
to healing that I share are my own journey. Um, you know, there’s lots
of stories in the book of how I came to terms
with, uh, the assimilation that I had accepted. How I allowed myself to change, um, in order to feel like I, to
get ahead in this industry. And so I, um, I share my grief, I share, um, the apology
that I had to make to myself and to my community,
in order to kinda heal and move forward from that. These steps also came
from lots of interviews and conversations that I had with folks that are very
forward-thinking in this work. People with wealth that went through a certain type of process. Um, one of the, one of the
couples that I interviewed are Jennifer and Peter Buffett. You guys know Warren Buffett? Their son, Peter, lots of money. Uh, they have a foundation
called the “Nova Foundation,” that really is, uh, philanthropy
at its best, in my opinion, in terms of how they
engage with community, they listen, how they move resources, how they center women
of color in their work. And so, um, you know, in
sitting down with them, I said, “How did y’all get to, how did y’all get from
here to here,” right? And so, I put these steps
together as a way to, to begin to understand how we heal and they’re also kinda pulled from an indigenous
restorative-justice model, right? And so, what that means is, when, if you’ve done offender work
or restorative-justice work, that means, in order for me to heal, I actually have to invite
the offender into my circle: I have to make a space for the oppressor to be a part of my family
in order for us to heal, because they’re hurting and I’m hurting. That doesn’t justify, you
know, the pain that was caused. That doesn’t justify our
history or all the bad things. But I want you to just ask yourself or consider for a moment, because we’re so polarized
right now, right, in this country, around
race, around class, around all the different issues happening, um, and um, but are we making space? Is there space in your life,
is there space in your circle, uh, to welcome someone
who may not see eye to eye on every issue like you do? There wasn’t space for
me, honestly, for a while. I’ll be honest about it (laughs). After the last election,
um, I did not feel open to people who did not
agree with me politically. Um, I’ve evolved in
this, and part of this, this process that I went through, the Seven Steps of Healing, helped me address my own
trauma around all of that, and to actually open up
my heart about my life, and, uh, create a space. I have relationships with
people in my own family who, um, who see things
very different from me. So, I think that type of mutual healing is gonna be necessary and required for us to decolonize wealth and
move forward together. Um, let me see. In closing, then we gotta open this up for some conversation with the panel, I just wanna say that
with these seven steps, of course, they’re not
linear, they’re circular, everything in nature is circular, everything in the indigenous
world view is circular, so, it is a process. There’s no silver bullet to
undo 500 years of colonization. There’s no quick answer there. But I am hopeful. I’ve had a lot of
conversations about this book, about this message, uh,
with folks who are in the 1% of the 1% of this country, people who do not have to
be thinking about race. You know, why, they don’t have to. But people are in a place
where I think there’s a sense of urgency about,
well, we have these resources, we need to think about
how we can move them to affect real change in communities. And so there is no quick fix; it’s circular, it’s not linear. Certain steps might need to be revisited, the entire process may
need to be repeated. But this is what you can do: take responsibility
for your part in either creating or maintaining the
colonial framework, right? So, this book will help you holding you up and
taking long days, right? And for me, I’m like, “I’m
Native, I didn’t participate.” I participated in it, we all have.
(people laugh) And so, um, we, you know, in
order to deconstruct this, we have to understand our work and, in our personal life, but in our work, how we might be actually contributing to colonial ways of thinking that are not helping us move forward, but are actually causing more separation, division, or possibly
even exploiting people with our intentions to do good. So we all have a responsibility
to making things right, regardless of whether you come from, you know, you’re a descendant of settlers, colonizers or people who were colonized, because the Lakota principle,
uh, that I’ll leave you with, is that all of our suffering is mutual, all of our healing is mutual, and all of our thriving is mutual. Thank you. (people applaud) – Well, (man chuckles) Heller Community, would you give him another round of applause? (people applaud) So, he’s already given our, kind-of common ground away: we’re both
seminary-slash-religious thinkers, and we both have tenure in
the South, in Mississippi, in one of the greatest
places in the States, right? So, we share some very
close stories in there, so I’m biased, I like him so, (people laugh) I’ll just put my bias out there, you know, I won’t try to intimidate him to do it. So, I wanna do this: you gave us a lot to think about, and I definitely want to
have this conversation. I want our colleagues
to introduce themselves, um, so they can share
how their work, kind of, in form, overlaps with your work. And then we’ll have a few
back and forth with us, and then we’ll open it
up to seeing if the crowd has some insights. So, my name is Jarvis. I am a struggling student, (people laugh) trying to figure out
how to do social justice in the Academy. I haven’t figured it out
yet, but, but, you know, pray for me. (laughter) If, if you can, one quick
question, and then I wanna add some conversation steps up: (clears throat) can you, you talk about this idea
to colonize our mind, and the colonizing virus, and how, so, it’s so a part of who we are, that it becomes difficult
to readily identify; and if the virus is something that moves, in a distant, move, in
generations and families, race, color, creeds, how do we talk about a virus that most people would
argue doesn’t exist? Because the hard part about
us dealing with viruses and outbreaks is trying
to get people aware that the virus exists. Can you see just a second, because if you’re talking about a virus, but does philanthropy see a virus? If you don’t mind, just a little bit, and then we’ll open it up. – Yeah, you know, I, I think
people are beginning to see. Some willingly, but also, I think we’re getting to a point where we don’t have a choice. Like, the system is imploding on itself. And even within philanthropy,
the protected bubble, um, you know, there, there’s
beginning to be scrutiny about foundations more publicly. You know, with the last election, I’ve been in a lot of
MPR radio interviews, with just the general public, right, which were really interesting what, kind of hearing what
people outside this world know about non-profits and foundations. And so, with the last election, uh, with stuff that came out
about the Clinton Foundation and Trump Foundation, that, foundations are now on the radar of the general public, and
people are beginning to say, “Wow, that’s a lot of
money sitting over there. What are they doing with that money?” Um, “Oh, they’re only investing 5% and they got a tax break? So you’re saying that $800 billion could have gone into public education, and to
healthcare, and all that?” Right? And so, I do think that
there’s an awareness that is growing, um, but
you’re, you’re, you’re right, I think that it, you know,
like, the idea of the, you know, colonization is an action
that is sort of driven by white supremacy, right? The ideas and notions of white supremacy, and so, that’s an idea
that we have to unpack and dismantle and begin to explore how white-dominant culture, is showing up in our institutions. And it’s hard. It’s hard when, you know, the dominant culture
controls the resources, they control the media,
they control the textbooks that are used in this institution. You know, like, all of this,
all of the decisions there, so, um, but I’m hopeful
that with what I’m seeing and experiencing, again, in some of these super white-privileged places, where there’s no type of accountability where they have to be
having these conversations. I’m being invited in because people are feeling
some urgency, I believe, and maybe that’s the silver lining, if there is a silver lining
in this political mess that we’re in, is that folks are feeling afraid. And even people who seem to be benefiting from this system have a level of fear because that’s what, that undermines this whole,
uh, colonization thing. It’s a fear. It’s a fear, it’s a scarcity mentality. We don’t have an idea in
this country of enough. Like, when, when does,
when do we have enough? When are we rich enough? There’s no constant with that, right? Um, and so I think that there’s a, just, hopefully we’ll get there
more on our own (chuckles) before things implode. Um, but I do think there’s something, uh, you know, because of the
moment that we’re living in that is so polarized,
terrifying, the news every night, that’s pushing folks
to begin to understand or ask questions that have
not had to in the past. – Right, so on that note, thank you. So, Jessica, you work around
empowerment economics. Will you share how, because obviously, empowerment economics is
trying to get at them, trying to spread this,
but it also has this hope that people have already
started thinking about this and they’re trying to view that framework to respond to this kind of setting. Could you share some of that? – Yeah, sure, thank you Um, Edgar, I just want to say, when I read your book,
it was like, “Finally!” (sighs) (laughs) So, thank you, for writing
it and for your analysis. Um, so I’m, I teach here. I teach a class called
Assets and Social Policy, and I also teach a class
called Immigrant Integration and then I do research. And the project that I’d like to tell you a little bit about has been, it’s a multi-year partnership
with two organizations, National Capacity and
Hawaiian Community Assets. I made a Hawaiian
organization, um, that has for many years been looking
at the asset inequality, right, so the inequalities in wealth. And using their own specific
experience with colonization, and exploitation across
the islands of Hawaii that understands how, why
so many native Hawaiians are struggling with, you
know, jobs and poverty and housing and land, et cetera. So, um, within the assets
field, the top-hand approach is more often one of,
okay, there are rules. If you follow the rules,
you can get wealthy. If you work hard, of course, right? So the meritocracy, plus
the belief in the system, the belief in the financial system, that if you just follow
the rules you will succeed. And what is exciting about
empowerment economics, in my mind, which is a term
that we collaboratively came up with to really
counter this approach to assets, which is kind of rooted in a dominant system and is
also very individualistic. Empowerment economics, on the other hand, is um, we’re calling it
an approach to building wealth and power, um, in, in
and by communities of color, and rooted in native Hawaiian experience, and now working to expand
it to other, other groups. So, at it’s core, what we’ve noticed, and in my position, and
in our team’s position, as their partners, is
to really just peel back and uncover practices and approaches and ways of thinking that have been in the native Hawaiian community for
many, many years, centuries. And our work is about
bringing those a bit more, raising them up, bringing them a bit more into the mainstream. And so I found it really
interesting in your book, because you talk a lot about
that, you know, really, sort of the work itself in
working within a system. For me, it’s like a game (chuckles). And then bringing in,
um, raising up voices that are not always, um,
that are not centered, that are marginalized. Bringing people’s ideas and
thoughts in from the margins. And what that looks like
in practice, in assets, and in Hawaii, is people having financial capabilities sessions,
workshops, counseling, et cetera, all the same tools that
the traditional mainstream assets field suggests, but the approach is completely different. It’s rooted in an understanding of, that everyone has the
inherent capability to, um, sustain and cultivate
resources for well-being, not just for the individual,
but for the community, right? So I guess I would just, I’ll stop there. I have so many things I’d love to ask you, but just one being, you know, the idea of decolonizing research is one that I think a lot about
working within the Academy, and um, working in
partnership with organizations and people on the ground. Um, it relates to Jarvis’s
point about, you know, do people believe it’s existence? So my question is, what knowledge,
what forms of knowledge, what knowledge of currencies,
has, have you seen to be really effective in
furthering that consciousness and helping people
become woken and wake up and think about how to
do things differently? – Oh, that’s a great question. Um, one thing before naming that, um, you know, if building wealth
was actually connected to working hard, I would be a billionaire. (laughing) Like, I mean, they’re
you know, people of color have been working really
hard for a long time. And we know that the race-wealth
gap is so vast, right, that it would take, um, gosh,
I can’t remember the number for black families for
the nationwide gulf, but there’s a number I read
recently, would take like, I don’t know, like 800 years
or some obscene number, for black families to catch up. So that’s just how far behind
communities of color are. And there’s no amount of
hard work that is gonna get us caught up without
some type of radical, um, shift in resources. So, um, so thank you
for dealing with that. In terms of research, um, gosh, I mean, I know, I know that within, sort of, the space of academia, there’s a lot of, sort of colonizing (chuckles). Um, the colonizer virus
runs rampant, right? And that is, um, there’s
a lot of questions we have to ask ourselves, like, what, who do we look up as
experts, like, and why? And, um, you know, I
believe that, you know, people who live in communities who are directly impacted by our
columns are the true experts. Um, I do think there are
ways that those of us who are inside the system can, there are things that we can do to shift some of that power and resources. One example, when I was in North Carolina, I had left a foundation and
said I was never coming back to the foundation again. And I went to run a
Native non-profit called the North Carolina American
Indian Health Board. Now, in North Carolina,
we have six tribes, and we have a lot of academic
research institutions. We’ve got Wake Forest, Duke,
Chapel Hill, like, right? And so, the Native
communities in North Carolina, our researcher was like, you know, like, really oriented on this. (people laugh) Lots of, uh, lots of
grants to do research, you know, on us and so, uh, you know, uh, we decided, in this organization,
that we would collectively come together and say, uh, no researchers coming into our community
unless they come in by our, you know, standards. And we created a community
hierarchy, right? So I think community
hierarchies are beautiful. They’re, it’s a way that
we started generating revenue for our communities. It was a way that began
to demand that you use our people for research associates and build capacity to do
research in our communities. And it was a way that we
also controlled the outcomes. The last thing we wanted was another study to tell everyone how poor,
uneducated, and unhealthy (people laugh)
we were, right? And so, like, what is the
purpose of this research and how are you gonna build capacity? And then let’s talk about the budget. Like, who’s getting paid what and how much are we getting, right? So that was another, um,
real, real-world conversation that we were having with Bruce. And, um, it was hard. It was, I mean, it’s, it’s, I wish I can sit here and give you all
kind of success stories, but, um, I think that the community-based participatory model is that, is a way of what we’re trying to get
there, eventually, right? But I think we, a lot of the, the things that I call out in the book in terms of, people with resources, what you need to do that
apply to the research area, like listen, um, and, and I say listening in color. It’s like a super power,
because there’s a certain way that you can listen,
where you gotta take off your white-dominant way of thinking and listen, like, to really understand and build a relationship
with a person, um, to really see the world
through their eyes. Um, and then, figure out, you know, is there research that the
community wants, right? What is their agenda for needing data, needing information, um, as a start? But, yeah, I could go
on and on about that. I’ll stop there.
(people laugh) – So, just a point and
then we’ll get to (mumbles) is your work, because you’re,
you’re, you’re going into how the virus may permeate other segments and how people can fight
it at an individual level. Again, so it exists,
it claims, it’s kind of being pushed upon them and
there’s negative wealth in it, who owns it and who controls it. But interestingly, in your book, you, you, you quote Malcolm, where he says that the, the master’s tools would never be able to dismantle the master’s house. – Oh, dear Lord. – Oh, the Lord, right, right, okay. And, and what made him — – I did quote Malcolm in there. – You do quote Malcolm in there. (people laugh) Right. Because this, this argument that what’s rational to the, let
me use the, you know like, this colonizer, is not
rational to the colonized. What’s reasonable to the colonizer, is not reasonable to the, what makes sense to the colonizer. And so you’re having to, literally, and I’m, I’m, I’m generalizing it, you have literally two minds
looking at the same world, try and talk, and they
can’t talk to each other. They can’t see what each other sees. And that, to what extent can research risk this? Because the book thrives in terms of how to think about research, is to try to suggest that somehow that conversation is not being had. And that if you don’t have
it, you can rise above it to this objective lens that’s, that you can get at without acknowledging that this war, these two lines are at war. So, I, I definitely
want to push that more, but I want to ask, Crane, if you could share some of how your work, because you’re dealing with
people on the individual level, and, and obviously the mind
challenge permeates us, not just institutionally,
but at the individual level. – My name is Gay-gy-za-ko-nee. I am a registered here (mumbles). I am a (mumbles) Officer,
talking about (mumbles). So I take one from the (mumbles). (laughter) For the past five years,
I have been able to raise over a million dollars for
projects and communities very specific, in In-gee-ah,
outside of In-gee-ah. One of the issues you
have around the programs is who defines what is community. Because (mumbles) What, you can recognize,
for example, a community per situation? And we talk about what is
acclimation, like (mumbles). In other words, what is empowerment? (mumbles) empowerment for
you community, empowerment. But what it means This, how does only conversation, What the community we want? What does community empowerment
means to the people? Is it the Westernized
and Japanese people way of how we built generation
(mumbles) community shared. Because, before Westernization, people had a way to do stuff. Communities had women. Because there will be
communities out there (mumbles), you see a lot of women
control field sources. So the gal-way conversation has been how do you change some of this narrative? How do you sal-ban to those communities, align with them do decide what is best? Who defines what is poverty? What make this poverty one (mumbles). But, the question is what is poverty to the people? Because, still, what they recognize as poverty to the people? Like you was talking about,
doo-ra said, you have plenty of poor Africans. It means we’ve got to raise money and go. And you will come back and talk about how do you raise money. Because the question that comes to mind, if this tax, if we reformed it as good
in the United States, we just fors-a-tee-con, because people hide under
tax evasion to raise some of this drug traffic money. So the bottom of the question, which I would also like you
to talk conversation, who defines community? Who defines what is poverty? Who defines what what
is economic empowerment So that’s the empowerment work, I do that. It was crazy to find economic empowerment in the face of what the people want, not in the face of what’s recognized as brus-joo-ge-ess economic empowerment. – Obviously, this is a great question, I was just at a conference,
um (clears throat), last week, funders in a cert about AIDS. A lot of international funders were there. I think that was the big question. I’m kind of fighting over who
defines what community means, because wherever that definition
of lands has implications, right, around funding that special, like, global types of funding, and so, you know, I think there is work to do. Like, I think that we as people of color have our own work to do sort
of regaining our sovereignty. And it’s really hard when you come from a traumatized community
this is so low-resource to not sort of cave in to
allow others to define you, because you so desperately
need the resources. I’ll just go, I think there’s
work that has to be done within the community — communities of color, folks on the ground doing
work — to really, to decide how they want to be defined, what their narrative would be, and to draw the line in the sand around this is the way it’s gonna be, right, and not compromise that in the face of resources. Which is a hard thing to do because, trust me, I know if you are a non-profit and you have bills to pay, and you’ve got staff you gotta pay, you need
the funding, right? So it’s easy for me to
sit here and say that but, you know, I do think we have to get pretty radical about it. They’re like, why are
we willing to give up? Are we willing to risk our reputations, are we willing to lose a
job, if that’s what it takes to really kind of push
forward what is right? And then I think, you know, for folks who are on the
other side of that equation who have resources, um, you know, I think that most
people are well-meaning, right? Like, they’re definitely, like, the crazy egomaniac
white-saber people, right? But, in general, I think
that a lot of folks are well-meaning and have good intentions. I don’t think that a white person wakes up and goes to work on the
foundation in the morning and says, “I can’t wait to
be racist today”, right? And so, I don’t think
that’s really the case, but there has to be a
level of awareness around that power that is being held by the folks who work in foundations. How the slightest, um, you know, stroke of a pin, like, the non-profit thinker is
holding on to every decision that we often make so carelessly because they so desperately
need the resources. And so, there I think, that’s the work that I’m
trying to do as an organizer within that privilege space. I think having white people
who have privilege to be allies and to help lead that
work is very helpful. So I had Peter Buffet write
the forwards in my book, because of that woman, they’re like, “nope, what’s that poor boy saying?” But to have someone who has
power to be a strong ally is very helpful for organize
on that side, so … But you’re right, it’s about
power, it’s about ownership. Equity is, diversity is, like, the easy thing, right? We can hire some people of color, some different kind of people or whatever. Inclusion is, like, not that hard, right? You can kind of, you know, help people, you know, come to the
table and fill in Bob. But equity is really about
giving up power, or … And I say, people say, “sharing power,” but I say, “giving up power.” Because what equity is, if
you historically have power or you have privilege, when we begin to operationalize equity, it’s gonna feel like oppression to you. – Mm-hm.
– Right? It’s gonna feel like
you’re taking a step back or being pushed down. But that’s what it really
is gonna take for us to get to a place to achieve equity. So, that’s, that power
bro-grayn is really where the money meets the … what do they say? Rubber meets or hits the
road, or whatever (mumbles). (people laugh) Or, people with their
money where their mouth is, or whatever.
(people laugh) That’s where the core of it really is, it’s about that power shift. And that’s their hard work,
and I think we just have to keep educating and
pushing in-da-ban-dee-men. – So, uh, few more cla-see gonna open
it up, because I’m gonna be, we don’t have that much
time, wrapping this up quick. So (clears throat), quick story. You’re storytellers, and
you may appreciate this. There was a woman who
came to visit her pastor, and she said that her
husband had been abusing her. And the pastor consoled her
child to sympathize with her, and try to be empathic at the moment. And then, of course,
after, you try to resume it and deal with the trauma, the pain, the depression and grief, the embarrassment, the shame. And then this question
comes: “What do I do now?” And, there’s this ongoing challenge, that pastor, this
conflicting interest, because the narrative of the church would inspire an argument to say,
well, you go back home, and you live in such a decent way, that your decency will rub off on him and force him to become a better person. (woman laughs) There’s a competing area that says, no, you don’t ask someone who’s
proven that they can’t do this to be a better person at her expense; you create a safe environment, and then allow him to be
reformed, if would be, but not at the expense of her health. And I think that that kind of
quick story tries to get at the moral-ethical question
that has to be raised when thinking about who is qualified to start making the decisions. Because, if a people, if a system has proven time and
time again it can’t do this, I struggle with asking people of color, or people oppressed, to just try to be such a nice character. That maybe you’ll be so
nice, and you’ll be so smart, and your day will be so rigorous that it will reform something that was no generated in the same fashion. And so, that’s an ongoing struggle, because you’re asking … you’re asking your abuser
to stop abusing you; and you’re almost hoping
that if you reform yourself, which is — you’re in poverty, so you get a me-dee-can, get
your values together, learn how to be managing it — somehow or another if you do this, you will make yourself worthy
of no longer being abused. That’s a very strange narrative. So if you could maybe talk more, respond, or think out loud with us, and the rest of the
panel, you can (mumbles), and we will open it up to them. – Well, I mean, it
sounds like you described the cycles of abuse, and that’s a very real phenomenon. – Right – And, you know, I think
that change happens, There’s different ways to get to change, different lever points, right? So, the work that I’m doing, where I’ve been the belly of
the beast, so to speak, right? (man and woman laugh)
I’m literally, I’ve met with folks and, you know, for a year and
a half I’ve been coaching someone who is at the one
percent of the one percent of the one percent, right? And, literally, I’m
sitting in their office, I’m like, I have literally
become an (mumbles). (people laugh) Right, and so, when I’m there doing that work, there are times when I
come out and I’m like, oh, you know, I need to
engulf myself in, like, a community of color and people,
you know, are my friends, and folks are recharged, so … But, I think, you know, the way that I approach when I’m in there trying to make change is the gentle way, right? It’s a way of, like, I’m not
here to judge you, let’s talk, let’s reason about this, let me educate you, right? And it has created a trust and the person has let
down their defenses. Because they have all this money, they didn’t choose to be
born into their family; they don’t know what to do with it, they feel guilty about it, right? So there’s a lot of stuff that
they’re dealing with, right? Then part of me is, like,
oh, poor you, right? (woman laughs)
But on the other hand, it’s like, you know what,
like, I can open-minded enough to know that that might
be a hard situation, so let me help you work
through some of that and figure out what you can do to pay reparations or
whatever with this money, in a sense, to help you feel good about your contribution to life, right? Now, there’s other types
of ways that we fight. There’s a time to fight. There’s a time for direct action, right? And so, a friend of mine, Alicia Garza, is the co-founder of Black
Lives Matter, who has been, on the front lines of change
on the streets, right, fighting for police accountability. I mean, that is a fight,
it’s a direct action. But, there’s also, it’s, you know, there’s policy change, and a policy platform, there’s substance, beyond direct action there. So, she and I were talking about this, and she endorsed my book,
there’s a blurb on the back about our different approaches. I can’t bring Alicia with me to this particular (laughs) meeting. I mean, I probably could, right? But, like, there are gonna be (mumbles), black lives matter, so I’ll
just show up and (mumbles). It’s a different way of fighting. So, they’re fighting here on a fight here; and as long as we are
all pushing for change, we’re gonna hopefully get
there in the flow of things. So, I think all of the types
of fighting are necessary. I think that we all have to
practice self-preservation, and know when to check out, when to take a different approach, when to just, like, take a
break from fighting and pushing, and find folks in our
community that are like-minded and that we can connect with, we can’t do it on our own. Find people that have power and privilege that are great allies that can help. We’ve always had white allies
in the fight for civil rights throughout history who have
been there to help in ways, or get us into places that maybe we couldn’t
get there on our own. So, I think those are a few things. So, Malcolm X, I’ll just say this, since you brought him up, you know, Malcolm X said that you
can’t have capitalism without racism, basically, right? And so, I think it’s a really interesting
thing to unpack because when I talk to a lot of people
of color about capitalism, I think people assume that
we don’t want nice things. Like, we,
(woman laughs) you know, we’re not into that. Actually, I think a lot of people of color are okay with capitalism: why, we want a nice home and a nice car and we want to be successful. But we want that for everyone, right? We want capitalism to change or to evolve to actually work for everyone, and we know it’s currently
working and only working for a few people in this country. So that’s why I always go back to this notion of white supremacy is at the foundation of everything, it’s what fuels the colonizing virus. We have got to dismantle this myth that just because you are born
with a certain color of skin that you are superior. And that’s something that
has harmed people of color, and it’s an idea that
has harmed white people. And I think if we can have white folks helping to organize other white folks, we can come in and support
what we can, but that, folks have to begin to see
that that type of mentality, and lack of awareness,
and blissful ignorance, is actually destructive and harmful to white communities as well, and I think that’s when
we’ll a sea change. (people laugh) – I think that before which, because I, even the people of color, organizations, and I
lean towards (mumbles). Because sometimes it’s easier for people that owns the power, because if you, people have already got
more weight than (mumbles) – Right. – (mumbles) If the
minorities come together, or people of color walking
out because they know (mumbles) you need to define what it’s like, or else, what is good for them, then you can dismantle (mumbles), the sovereign ones, communities
get at to (mumbles), because it’s easier
either in NGO con-vaks, when you consider, you
said it in your book, they do no have the federalized NGOs that will grip all of
your hands (mumbles). And once, you write in the book (mumbles), they won’t forget it (mumbles). So if we look beyond (mumbles), the ones with cars, the ones who have good houses
for everyone (mumbles), what it means to have your community. So, I think, first, we
need to work together. A stable fellow, haf-a-sted, not just, when I say
those who think alike, you know, we call them Democrats or we call the Republican: all have different ideologies, but think working (mumbles). Once you will do that, the
system will keeping winning, the system will keep winning, because it was designed to work that way. I want you to understand that
the system has been designed to work that way. Just pick and choose, and (mumbles). – So, um, I just wanna build
off what you’re saying about if we know the system is
designed to produce luck for some and not others, how do they speak about
dismantling the system within it, and then going back to the, sort of, within the institutional change, in addition to broader policy changes that can pinpoint leverage points. So I feel like there’s, you know, the internal-external balance that he spoke about. But, for example, when, you know Fernita blenz
really doing policy work in a-poy Community Assets, the organization that we partner with. Because a huge part of their, der-a-cheen does not, like, they do financial
education and policy over here. It’s all holistic work that really, they’re seen as being able
to really change the system. So, you know, I’d love to hear bok-la-mayn talked about both and, and not either-or, and I personally struggle
with that sometimes. I think I wanted to
learn more about how to really bring things together
without compromising the need to dismantle white supremacy. And just another tiny story about the (mumbles) research, I really appreciate everything
you said about that. I go, we have so many research
spaces and activisations, and even community advocacy spaces where people are doing that type of work, but it is not documented as knowledge. So, decolonizing knowledge, you know, like you said, you know, figuring out who’s knowledge is valued, just considering (mumbles). I think it’s critical to this
ongoing decolonizing work. I was at an as-pes research conference, and I got a sig-nee-kry,
communities (mumbles) research, and they were just blank. Like, it was like they
literally didn’t know (laughs) what (mumbles). And I was like, oh, but you’re
talking about it loud and (laughs) and then it, you know, grace and equity, so, um, I don’t know, I guess building up, I would like to see more and more people within institutions like this. We get more and more people
like you in philanthropy, like a sea change in addition to people
who are already in power learning to change and waking up. – Yeah, I think that, you know, I support an incremental
approach to change. Like, I think we have to
envision radical change, right? Like, imagine, I talk about what if this
and what if that in the book quite a bit, because one of the spoils
of colonization, I say, is our ability to imagine. And, frankly, in writing the book and doing interviews and
doing research with folks, quite often, people who were
the most marginalized had the weakest ideas for
what could be different. I was shocked by that. And folks who were privileged and wealthy have, like, an amazing
amount of cool ideas, right, because they are not so
beholden to this system: the system could collapse
and they’re like, we’re gonna be alright, right? But, those of us who come
from poverty are like, the system is broken, but I’m getting my grant for right
now, so don’t do (mumbles), (men and woman laugh) right, don’t disrupt it, right? So, it’s hard if you’re
out on a raft on the ocean in some raggedy boat, right, but it’s all you’ve got, it’s probably gonna punch a hole in that, and then, you know. So, I do think that
change is gonna come about in an ever will away. These systems are made up of
people and people are flawed, so we’ve just got to reach people, we have to build relationships; we have to get more of us at power, right? Like, we are, you know, people of color, we’re growing in numbers,
we’re growing in power, we’re seeing that, I think someone said to me this morning, for, like, the last seven
presidential elections, the populous vote has been, you know, has been in our favor. We have this whole Electoral
College thing, but, so, I think that the world is moving and the arc of justice is
bending in the right direction, as they say, ever so slowly. And, you know, but, you know, I think we have to think more radically about it, and ways that we can disrupt. Regardless of where you sit in any system, like, we have decision and choice points at every step of the way that can be, have really powerful implications. And you have to be willing to work harder, right? It’s hard work to do the right thing. It’s like walking backwards
on a moving sidewalk, right? Where everyone is coming this way and you’re like the one running. And then let’s all
claim (mumbles) up here, and then write a book; but I have scars on my back because I stood up for
the right things, right? And so, at a certain point in time, even when I wrote the
book, I was terrified. I was like, they’re gonna come for me. (woman laughs)
I got a lawyer to make sure I don’t get sued
for defamation of character, you know, because, really,
speaking the truth of power has never been easy. But if not us, who? And so, if not you all, who? Right, so, you’ve gotta just be willing to trust the universe that
you’re gonna land somewhere, you’re gonna be alright, that we’re gonna build there for you, and you’ll have shelter over your head, if you stand up for what is right, and disrupt in your own way. If you’re a person that is
comfortable on the front lines, you know, fight for a change
in that way, getting arrested, then you do that. That scares me a little bit: I’m the person that likes to disrupt from within the system, so that’s where I’m
trying to do my change. But all of us have to be agents of change in order to move this thing forward. – So, we want to open it
up, because we, I could, we will probe you all morning. So we gonna open in up and see if there are some
other questions or comments from the audience. Um, I see a few hands, so maybe we can get, like,
two or three responses, questions, and then we’ll
let you respond to them. Uh. – [Woman] Um. – In the front right here.
– Yeah, okay. Hi, I’m Lisa. Um, thank you so much for coming. This has been fantastic so far. I have two questions, sorry Jarvis. (people laugh) I, and admittedly, I’ve
read half of the book, so if this is in, like, Chapter
7, just tell me and we’ll — (people laugh) Um, I’m really curious
about your thoughts around corporate foundations, and thinking about their role as part of the colonizer virus, or
being a part of that system, but also a part of philanthropy, and what that looks
like if that, you know, it still falls under the same scope that you talk about in your book, or if that’s a whole, like,
different can of worms. Similarly and related, I think,
around donor-advised funds and the role that they
could play in this work, the role that they play against this work, those two areas I am curious about, I’d love to hear your thoughts. – Behind you. – [Woman] We’re handing out,
anyone who asks a question, we’re giving out free books. (woman laughs) (incomprehensible chatter and laughing) – Your question? – [Woman] You talked a
little bit about meeting, like, the top one, one,
one percent of one percent of one percent.
– Right. – [Woman] Like, we talked
a little bit about, like, acknowledging where wealth comes from and how we accumulate from beginning and when is enough enough. I’m just curious, um, like, is decolonizing philanthropy the same as decolonizing wealth? And to decolonize wealth, don’t we have to dismantle capitalism and the power structures? And, in order to do all of this, (woman laughs) do we need to, is it seeing to believe, or believing to see? And which one comes first,
which one is more easier or feasible? – Give her all the books. (people laugh) – [Woman] You have to
stay now until dinner. (people laugh) – Right, we right, so, you can respond to those two questions, and I saw three other
hands, and they all were — – Okay, okay. I have really short-term memory, so you might have to remind me, so your question was
about donor-advised funds and appropriate foundation. So, the thing is all foundations are corporate foundations, right? And those folks who work on
institutional foundations that, like, for foundation or whatever, like to get self-righteous, like, “we’re not a part of that.” Um, yes you are (laughs). (woman laughs)
All of them, all the money in foundations
came from businesses or from corporate sources, so, so I like to kind of poke a hole in
that self-righteousness that some foundations have. So, I think corporate
philanthropy is a great thing; I think that business
has place in our society, and that corporations should
be good citizens and give. So, I think, so the
concepts absolutely apply also to corporate philanthropy, any organization, actually,
that is controlling, you know, hidden gatekeeper resources. For donor-advised funds, so, oh, they’re so problematic, and there’s a lot of opportunity, so, we talk about this money,
the $800 million, right, being stolen, stolen late
and genocide, slavery, all the things, right? Then I say it’s twice stolen because it was packed, sheltered, people
who, you know what I mean, pay taxes on it, so it’s like in the, in the bank, just sitting there. And, you know, with that money, the IRS requires a 5% payout, which was supposed to be a minimum when that law was passed: has to be a minimum,
you should pay out 5%. That has become the ceiling, where most foundations only pay out 5%. And what’s happening with the
95 is a whole nother world where they’re invested in
destructive, harmful industries that are hurting people and the land. But donor-advised funds
is this new way that, if you have wealth, you can open a donor-advised fund, and in most cases, you don’t
have to pay out anything. So, if everybody is getting a tax break to put their money into an account where it is just sitting
there accumulating wealth. Fidelity Charitable is
now the largest holder of charitable funds in the world. And I opened an account there, I’m telling you one, although
this is being broadcast (woman laughs)
around the world. I did it just to
experiment and try it out. You can, I think, for, like,
a couple hundred bucks, you can open up one, you don’t
have to be a millionaire. And not once has anyone ever
called me and said, you know, hey, you should support
this group over here, or whatever, so, um, it’s really a problematic
thing where we can take, you know, not pay taxes on money and put it into an account for, to be inherited by future generations, or whatever you want to do with it. There are some folks who
are pushing back on that. Amalgamated Bank in New
York City, for example, has a new donor-advised fund program where they are strongly, I
don’t think it’s required, but it’s strongly encouraging and constantly reaching out to people who open funds there to give, and to give in a way that
reflects social justice values. So they have, like, non-profit partners; if you care about education, they’ll say, you know, support this, because they’re trying to
experiment with some things there to kind of shift donor-advised funds. But, yeah, they are the big secret that is hording wealth and
not supporting communities, and folks are getting richer
off of that at our expense. So, learn about it, read
about it, and disrupt it. (woman laughs) Oh, God, your questions, so many and so good. Um, so, let me see if I can remember. So, part of it was how is decolonizing wealth different from decolonizing philanthropy, right? So, um, you know, I
intentionally used wealth instead of philanthropy, one, because philanthropy is so small. I mean, when you think about money flowing through the world, I said $800 million is
a drop in the bucket when you look at the money
that is flowing though local governments and through
other types of places, so, the same dynamics of
control and power are, you know, across all of the institutions, from gifts to loans, bank drop is what I call it, and need to be examined, so, I think they’re actually interchangeable, because it think
philanthropy is mostly about accumulating wealth and hording wealth and actually giving, so I would say that they
are kind of interchangeable. Um, remind me of the other part. – Capitalism.
– Capitalism. – Oh, capitalism. You know, that’s a really good … So, I kind of, like, always
steer around that question a little bit because I am
not an economist (snickers). What I do believe is
that capitalism and work is not working for everyone. It has rolled with white supremacy and I think it does have to be reformed in order for this stuff to work, right? I think there, you know, I wish I could figure out a way where we could reform it in a way
that would work for all. I don’t know if that is possible. It’s, um, it’s so (laughs), it’s so damaging and harmful as it is, so, however unrelated, to
answer your question, my way of chipping away at
that is to come about it and attacking white supremacy, which I think is really,
like, embedded in the system. And so, that’s my response to that. – [Woman] And in the last part he was moving them both
apart, and he was like, do we need to see it to believe it first, or do we need to believe it to see it? Or, yeah. – I think we have to see it to believe it. You know, I mean, I’m a, I think that having a vision, without a vision, the people perish, (man laughs) to quote a scripture (mumbles). (people laugh) So I think that, you know, I think you have to be able to, I mean, most movements begins with a place of imagining a different world. And, um, you know, so, someone imagined the system
as it is and created this. I mean, you can reimagine
a different system and work to, you know, recreate that. – So, we had three more
questions: one in the front, and I saw one behind, and then there was somebody in, – Two there. – In the back. So, if people would be, you can stand, and you can stand. They,
(man speaks incomprehensibly) And, you had your hand up? And we’ll just take the three questions and then you can respond to them. – Okay. – Go ahead. – [Man] It doesn’t matter what order. – [Man] Um, so, I (speaks
incomprehensibly). (woman laughs) So, I come from a very rural and, uh, Republican, I guess, uh, area, and I think that it’s really easy to talk about decolonization
and outward society. And, I emailed, but, like, how to I start that
conversation with, like, my father-in-law, who, like, – Mm-hm.
– This would, this would not, like a violated privacy, guide him to decolonization and (mumbles). I guess I don’t agree with that. – You might leave that conversation alone with you father-in-law.
(people laugh) You. – [Woman] Hi, I’m from North
Carolina, so (mumbles softly), but my question to you is actually, so I’m gonna play devil’s advocate to get the perspective from
you, from what we’ve heard, is regarding those who
are being colonized. As so, beng-er kind of
touched on it a little bit, is what advice do you have, but also, kind of, what is the warning, to those who are being
colonized in response to, let’s say that the cycles become broken and wealth is decolonized, a lot of times what people
in power say is, like, oh, well we gave you a
chance, but you weren’t ready, so we’re gonna take that right back, is what advice would you
have for those communities who are saying, you know, hey, we need to control our own
narrative, have our power, what advice would you
give to those people? Because, on the other hand, I
see those who are colonizing saying, well, they’re not
ready, they can’t handle it. Well, if we would, if we went to the side, they would be able to, so, I’m interested in your
perspective on that. – Go ahead. – [Woman] Um, so, my question is, what can philanthropists do to not unconsciously enforce
consideration to (mumbles). They have to speak a language that can communicate what they
are looking for (mumbles). – Okay, so, to my brother
from the rural … So that’s where I’m from as well. I went home during the last election,
(man laughs) to find a gigantic Trump
sign, like, this big, in my mom’s front yard. And she’s never even been that
political, so I was, like, this is coming down right away, right? (people laugh) You know, I think, um, you know, of course you probably don’t want to use the term “decolonizing wealth”, right, but, we have to help people who are not from the
urban progressive centers of this county, you know, need to be able to see that the system that is in place is not working for them, right? I think one of the reasons we’re seeing such crazy acts of, like,
white supremacy bubble up in places, in rural communities like Charlottesville in Virginia, is it’s all being driven by this fear, an idea of scarcity. You know, what I hear from my own family is, like, I can’t, I only make, I make $2 too much, so
I can’t get Medicaid; but when I go up there,
it’s like full of, you know, immigrant folks or whatever. And so, that scarcity mentality
is creating that hatred and that division among
people of color, right, that you mentioned. And that is so intentional. And so, you know, with my own
family, where I’ve started, it’s just conversations around, you know, the Thanksgiving table. If you go to Color Lines, which is a great racial
justice publication, they actually put this together
on Thanksgiving every year, really, how to talk to your family about politics and (mumbles), like,
how to bring it up, right? Understanding that, for so many of us, we’re the first ones from our families to kind of, like, be enlightened to, you know, more progressive ways, so, doing the bluv, I think
that a lot of folks are not educated about these issues, so, you know, for the past several years, I’ve been spoon-feeding
my mom and my step-dad, who has a red hat in the
closest, um, information, like, do you want health insurance? (woman laughs) Um, they were resistant for, my mom was, and my step-dad was resistant to sign up for Obama Care because, although qualified for it, did not have health insurance, but was more willing to be uninsured than to sign up for Obama Care, right, because in his mind that was, like, signing on to whatever kind of agenda. These folks are on the
FOX News program, right? They are on the Trump
program, the FOX News, and they’re believing
and went along with it. And so, people like us,
who they love and respect, because I’m sure your mom
said they were so proud of you that your (mumbles) a
very nice university, that you’re making it. You have a lot of power
to begin to educate them in different ways, so, use your own voice and
your own relationships, you know, to do that. Um, and then the question from here, – Yeah.
– I’ll, um … (people speak incomprehensibly) Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, that goes back to what
we were talking about, like, who is listed as experts. Being from the South, like, I hear all the time
from these big foundations in New York that they
want to fund in the South, but they don’t have the capacity. (woman laughs)
I’m like, what, who are you to decide,
where have you worked? So, you ended up in this
program officer position, and (laughs), you know, like, oh, you know how to change
systems in the South? (mumbles) Well, anyway. So, I always say that it’s not a lack of, it’s not about capacity or capability, it’s about being under resource. And constantly, I looked
up models of organizations like in Mississippi who,
with shoe-string budgets, are doing amazing things. And so, I don’t know what we have to ship to an area program,
like, who is an expert, um, who is, and I think we have to
believe that ourselves too, for our own communities, right? Because we, with that traumatized mindset, it does cause us to question
our own abilities sometimes. We’re like, maybe I can’t do it, right? Um, and so, that’s, I think that’s part of
the work we have to do is to believe in ourselves and to just demonstrate. And sometimes I want to be
radical enough to say, like, we’ll do it in spite of my
getting your resources, right? Like, if that’s what it takes, which I know, again, in reality, is hard, it’s a hard thing to do, but, um … So, yeah, so, those of
us who are descendants, or, are the colonizers,, there’s a lot of work that we have to do. There’s a chapter in my book
that is specifically for us; and it also deals with
internalized depression, which is some of the stuff
that you were touching on. So that wasn’t a complete
answer, I’m sorry, but, um … (man and woman mumble) And then that question was about what, that forced assimilation, right? Um, so, God, that’s a huge
issue, so I think, um, there’s am article called
“The Exit Interview” which an organization called ABFE put out. APFE is the Association of
Black Foundation Executives. And they interviewed all of
these black professional who have left land-er-bee,
for those reasons, right? Not feeling like they could grow, or that they could have new ideas, or, you know question the
system in any kind of way. So people just ended up leaving. That’s my own experience: I left slash got pushed
out twice from foundations for just asking questions about, like, what about this, and it’s, like, out, you know, right? (people laugh)
So, um, I think times are changing. I mean, I have heard stories where, you know, black women especially have been asked to wear
their hair in certain way, bay-at sisters not to wear
their native jewelries at work. Does it make people feel
uncomfortable around them? I thought (mumbles) native jewelry. (people laugh) I mean, what’s wrong with that? So, I mean, so, many of these
environments still exist. I tell some stories in the book about my first shot at a foundation, I was told I needed to get a new car, because I had a Honda
Civic that I had paid off and had for 10 years,
I was so proud of it, and they did not want folks
in the community to think that they weren’t paying their employees well. So I needed to get a new car, right? So those types of crazy,
(woman laughs) that type of crazy is still out there. But, I think that what’s
happening is your seeing a shift with all these efforts to
democratize philanthropy, where folks are really
beginning to appreciate different perspectives,
different cultures. But it’s still very much
in the tokenism where, if you get in as a person of color, you are probably the
only one they’re gonna, that’s gonna get in, right? They’re gonna say, “we did it!” (people laugh) And so, there’s a lot of work to be done, but I think, for just, as a person of color, if you have an interview at a foundation, ask those questions, talk to the other people
of color who work there if they have them, say, “are you alright, what’s it like?” (people laugh) Um, and then find your people. I mean, white-dominated
culture is everywhere, whether your in philanthropy,
academia, or wherever, and so you’ve gotta find your people that are gonna help you
keep your head on straight so you don’t, you know,
over-assimilate or lose your mind. But we will have to
co-switch for years to come, I’m pretty sure, so, unfortunately … (man laughs) (people mumble) – If there’s more,
– How many more, – We’re supposed, we’ll shut down at 1:30. – Mine is pretty quick.
– At 1:30? – Can we take a few more, or … – [Woman] Asking me? I have given up my power,
(people laugh) – Okay, these are the last few, and then we’ll wrap it up, because I know people gotta (mumbles). – [Woman] It may not be filmed, it may not be recorded (mumbles).
– Okay. So, we had one in the front row, a – Talk to me.
– And then, (people mumble) – [Woman] Um, hi, thank you for coming. My name is Edith. I think mine relates a little bit to what you all were just talking … I know bin-ga earlier made a
comment about community, right, and the importance of kind
of building a community within us before we
try to tackle a system. So I just wanted to hear a little bit more about your experience, because I know in the beginning of your
book you talked about, you talk about philanthropy, but we can apply a venture capitalist, and in my Linkedin,
Linkedin targets to me, so it’s always like nothing
on venture capitalist. Like, you been, since coming
up, right, to increase this, these, I mean, you mention,
like only 1% of venture capital goes to black and Latino, um, populations. So, just based on your
experience, I’m curious, I know there’s not that many of you in the philanthropy world, but what is the conversation that we all are having within you, right? Because, you mentioned, it took you a while before
you realized, oh, shoot, I’m changing, and I want
to go back to my roots. So, we all kind of are going through that kind-of identity struggle, transformation, where to fit in. So what is the conversation you’re hearing based on your experience? Is there kind of a movement of, like, how do the field, as in
philanthropy, come together and unite first, before we approach, based on what you’re, yeah. (people speak incomprehensibly) – [Man] I also should add,
one, that in in-stin-yer-way, have our own, in my
region, we have our own experience of colonizing. It’s not connected with the race, but connected directly with disability, because people build as if
it’s without thoughts about me, about my health, and about
the health of other people. People build the universities
without thoughts about unhealthy person in general. And I think that it’s pretty often that Ivy League universities (mumbles) because of years, but it’s also colonial, colonial universities. And I, what also I believe
that it’s very promising, a promising approach because, as you said, people can’t change their race, or change their mindset about relations between race or color. But I think that they could think about changing
their health condition, and changing the status. It’s only one conflict for me; but when people continue the status, because of Lexington, for example, what do you think about this possible way of dip-loh-my-zed though this thought that I could be once a disabled, and I should think about unhealthy people, other people, because I can
change my status one day. (people mumble) – Um, I wanted know,
(people laugh) thank you, thank you. I wanted to know, when you
were speaking, you said that we need to remember that colonization has also led to white trauma, and I would love for
you to expound on that and say how that empowers
people of color’s trauma versus detracting from it, especially when it’s
something that goes unnoticed. – Yeah, okay. Um, so, I’ll go quick. So, yes, I think, so, there are people of color
networks within philanthropy; and one thing that I, I
worked at three foundations, and I may be the only
person in history that has worked only for people
of color in philanthropy. All three foundations have
people, colored presidents. Now, seems like it might
have been an easier word, it wasn’t, actually.
– That’s (mumbles). – Um, because, I think they’re the most, who might historically have power; when you get power all of a sudden, you’re running a big foundation, if you don’t have an analysis and your not doing your homework, then you can actually perpetuate the dynamics that are even
more harmful and painful. And that was my experience
in my first two jobs. Honestly, when I left
my second foundation, and I was getting
recruited by foundations, I would go straight to the website, and I was like, I just want
to work for a nice white man, that was my thing, who is secure in his
power, and in his place, and is gonna let me just shine and thrive, and not be, you know, intimidated by that. So we have a lot of work to do, you know, within communities of color, but there are great networks. I’m a part of a network that’s
called Change Philanthropy, and Change Philanthropy is
made of the organizations that represent all types of
marginalized communities. So, um, as it was shared earlier, I’ve chaired the Board of Native
Americans in Philanthropy, great organization. We have Hispanics philanthropy,
blacks philanthropy, Asian philanthropy, LBGQ
philanthropy, women (mumbles). So, all of these different organizations, we all come together
for Change Philanthropy so that we’re supporting one another, trying to dismantle that
internalized oppression that creeps up. But, that’s a real thing; so we have to do that
work and continue to hold, you know, white people accountable and support them in their journeys and all that stuff too, so, um … So, yeah, I think it’s,
we don’t have the luxury or the time to get our
stuff together first and then help people.
– Yeah. But, um, it’s happening. Um, and then, the questions here. I’m being honest, I haven’t thought about it that way before. Like, I love your question. I will say, I mean, this is
not exactly what you asked, maybe someone else has a good response, but within philanthropy, with all of the diversity initiatives that have been happening, they have not been
inclusive around ableness. And there’s been a major movement, Ford Foundation actually has been somebody who’s done a really good job about that, to push for that inclusiveness. Even looking at the
staffing in the foundation, what people are funding,
looking, you know, making sure that ableness was, like, a factor in all the data and reports
that are coming out. And so, that’s, I feel like that’s a movement
that is growing more, people are paying attention to it. But I love, I love kind
of how you phrased that, that, like, at any moment, right, like, you may not think you’re a
part of this group of people, you can become a part of it, which is different
from, like, race, right? Like, I can’t wake up and all of a sudden be white in a day, you know? Um, but that might be an
experiment that we try, right, like,
(people laugh) you know, a day in the
life of being, like, a black foundation person, or, you know, or, I don’t know, but … Remember the book by fyk-lee?
– Mm-hm. – That was kind of an experiment they did. Um, so, I don’t know, anything that you folks
might add to this question. – I mean, I actually think it relates to your concept in the book
about all being connected, and all being related, and I think if people really
thought like that, then community, as a concept,
would be broader, and, you know, the concept of
universal design of things being workable for all would flow naturally, logically out of that everybody-is-part-of-one-human-being
thinking; but because of our
separateness and divisions, I think it’s challenging for
people to take those needs. – I do talk about, in the
book, about architecture and the design of buildings and how they can perpetuate
colonial dynamics, right? Um, you know that, you hear
the term “ivory tower”, that comes from place, often these, often
foundation are ivory towers: they are built to be hard for
people to get to, to enter, you gotta go through so
much security to get in. And so there are, I do think that place and the way buildings look and feel actually are a reflection
of their values often. Um, and then your question was about, so, you know, by writing
this book, I didn’t really, I have not thought about white people trauma before (laughs) until I started writing this book. And what I’ve found in the
study of colonization is, there’s one researcher whose name must have slipped
my mind at the moment, who writes about white people as orphans. And when white people
explore their history, often they come from
communities that were tribal and communal, and had a
culture and languages, and all of that. And where their loss is is that they came here often as immigrants or settlers
or colonizers or whatever, and often gave up that in order to pursue this
idea of the American dream. It is not a real thing, right? And so, fast-forward 200 years, um, I think a lot of white
people are finding themselves, like, you know, like, wow,
I’m at a loss, or empty, because they don’t have
the same type of culture, cultural connections, that we may have in communities of color. Like, they want that. And so, I think that’s why these DNA tests are so popular now.
(people laugh) And have you ever noticed
that every time they find out they’re Native American, which is kind of, like, a
little scary for me, but … Um,
(people laugh) Yeah, I was like, yeah,
they’re just identifying (mumbles) I need to
research on that, right? We’re low on this data. – Yep
– But, you know, I think people are looking
for their origin story, and wanting to kind of be
grounded in their own culture in some ways. And, like, America itself
doesn’t really have a culture culture, you know? So, um, that is, a loss that, um, a woman who shared her, a woman who went through this process that I talk about in the book, and I share her story in the book, she wrote a letter of apology to me for her family having owned
slaves that were appointed, they were native and black slaves. But she also apologized
to other white people because she had, um, you know, for sort of the sense of loss, that she had kind of
abandoned her white community in a sense, because she felt like they weren’t woke, that she was born to be
like the people of color; and she is now going back to
try to help her own family and community come around. Um, but, if you can
imagine that type of loss, and some of the research shows us some of the behaviors that, you know, this is stereotypical
stuff I’m saying, but some of the behaviors
of some white people, as a reflection of that
feeling of orphanism, is building a wall separating
themselves, self-medicating, not being able to have
intimate relationships in the way that we do
in communities of color. Those are all symptoms of
being disconnected from land, and to a place, and to a culture. And so, that’s, um, I think when some white folks can
come to terms with that and grieve that, and it’s a way that they
can kind of get to their own liberation and healing. And that’s, you know, maybe
where we have a lot in common. So I don’t think that
their struggle or trauma takes away from ours. Ours may be very different
as people of color, (mumbles) very different; but acknowledging that we
both have some kind of trauma is a place of collective,
you know, opportunity. I have said that before and it has triggered people of color, because they’re, like, you know. Or they’ll say, like, I don’t
have the time or strength to help through their journeys, right? And, so, I totally get that, everyone has to work through
their own stuff (laughs). And, in my particular work,
I have, for whatever reason, found myself in those
very white-rich spaces to kind of help them with that. So that’s work, but, trust me, not to
disconnect, to do my homework, and to recharge my own community. I don’t think that’s a
burden that should be on all people of color, everyone needs to do their own work. – Yeah.
– With that being said can you give our guests
a round of applause? (people applaud) Are there copies of the book
that people can purchase? – [Woman] Yeah, so, there
are copies for sale as well. And then, we also will be
sending out information about a book club that is going to be held for all members of the Heller community; and if you decide to sign up for that, we’ll also provide a copy
of the book for you, so … I just want to say thank you again to Edgar Villanueva, our guest, to Jarvis Williams, and
to Jessica Seafarers. (people applaud)