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Yeah. Hello and welcome to Tony-Martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d be hit with hyper guard Dallas the asia Footnote one If you tickled me with the idea that you missed this week’s show de colonizing wealth. Edgar Villanueva’s book de colonizing wealth takes an innovative look at the purpose of wealth. His thesis is that the solutions to the damage and trauma caused by american capitalism, including philanthropy can be gleaned from the values and wisdom of our nation’s original people. He’s a native american working in philanthropy, This originally aired 30 November 2018 Antonis take two gratitude all day. We’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. And by sending blue the only all in one digital marketing platform, empowering non profits to grow tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in blue. Let us begin here is de colonizing wealth. It’s my great pleasure to welcome to the studio Edgar Villanueva, He’s a nationally recognized expert on social justice philanthropy. He chairs the board of native americans in philanthropy and is a board member of the Andrews Family Fund, Working to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth. He’s an instructor with the grantmaking school at Grand Valley State University and serves as vice president of programs and advocacy at the shot Foundation for Public Education. He’s held leadership roles at Kate b Reynolds charitable trust in north Carolina and marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle, Edgar is an enrolled member of the lumbee tribe of north Carolina. You’ll find him at de colonizing wealth dot com and at Villanueva Edgar, you’re welcome to studio.
Thank you. tony Pleasure to be here.
Congratulations on the book. Thank you. Which just came out last month was october
Yes. Alright. And you just had a very nice interview with the new york times?
congratulations on that. They perhaps perhaps perhaps you for nonprofit radio
Right, right. I’m ready. All
your, all your media appearances to date have brought you to this moment. Right. So it’s all culminated here. Um, I promised listeners, footnote one, footnote 12. hyper guard Alice these asia. Uh, of course, anybody listens to the show knows that I open with something funny like that. A disease. Every single show. Uh but in Edgar’s book, he mentions hyper guard anesthesia. So this is the first time Over 400 shows that the, that the guest unknowingly has uh, provided the opening disease state. So thank you very much. You didn’t know what we do that every single show. Um you didn’t know that you’re not listening to nonprofit radio It’s it’s your life. All right. Um, okay. De colonizing wealth. Uh, you’re you’re, you’re a bit of a troublemaker
a little bit.
Yeah. You’re raising some eyebrows. Uh,
someone told me yesterday that I was the Colin Kaepernick of philanthropy, which I was like, I haven’t thought about it that way, but
that’s not also bad. Get a little closer to the mic so people can hear you. Yeah, just get not almost intimate with it almost. Um, I used to call myself the charlie Rose of charities until he blew that gig for me. You know, he ruined that. Uh, can’t use that any longer. Um, because you talk about uh, colonizer virus and exploitation and division. Um, like these are bad things.
Yes, they are bad thing. What
uh, what is the, what’s the colonizer virus? Why do we need to de colonize
so many of us who work in philanthropy or even the non profit sector, um, you know, have this firewall that we are completely disconnected from, um, Wall Street or from capitalism or, or some of those uh, processes and systems in our country that may have a negative connotation for the good doers. But in philanthropy, we are not very far, you know, disconnected from uh, corporate America. Most of this wealth was made by corporations and businesses, um, sometimes, uh, not in the best ways, not in the
backs of a lot of indigenous and colored people.
Yeah. When you look at the history of the accumulation of wealth in this country is steeped in trauma. Right? And so legacy wealth that has been inherited for generations. Now, folks may not even know the origin of their family’s wealth, but you know, when we look back and we see in general how wealth was accumulated. Um, you know, especially I’m from the south north Carolina, we’ll talk about that. Um, there absolutely was the legacy of slavery and stolen lands that, that help contribute to the massive wealth.
And you feel there are a lot of lessons we can learn from the values of native americans.
Yeah. So you know, we as a, people talk about healing a lot. We have a lot of trauma that exists in our communities. Um, you know, because colonization as we often think about it as something that happened five years ago in north Carolina, especially where I’m from, we were the first point of contact, but colonization and the, the acts of separation and exploitation are still continuing present day. And so in my community, native communities across the country, even as recent as my grandparents generation kids were forcibly removed from their homes and put into boarding schools. And so we’re still, we’re experiencing a lot of trauma as a result of these practices, but we are a resilient people and those who are closest to a lot of the problems that we are trying to solve today as a society, have a lot of answers and wisdom that we can bring to the table.
You say that the natives are
the original philanthropists.
Um, now you’re a member of the lumbee tribe of north Carolina. Uh, Robinson county north Carolina, which, which is not too far from where I own. I own a home in Pinehurst, which is a little north and west I think of, of Robinson County lumber. So the lumbee tribe, I assume the lumber river is named for the lum bees and Lumberton. The town
named for lambis. Right? So love bees were actually named after the lumber river after river came first. Yeah, the river came first and so certainly the river came from
the name of the river
came from rivers been there much longer than, Yeah. So we are, you know, a hodgepodge of historical tribes that were in coastal north Carolina. Um, that I came together to form the lumbee tribe and named ourselves after that river.
Um, and we’re gonna come back to uh, native americans as the, as the original philanthropists. But uh, that, that struck me a lot. I think you, you say, you say that the end of the, at the end of the book is where I, where I caught it. Um, uh, we just have like a minute and a half or so before the break. So just we’re introducing this, we’ve got plenty of time together, wealth. You say divides us, controls us, exploits us. What’s that about?
So the accumulation of wealth. So money in itself is neutral wealth in itself, I say is, is neutral, but it’s the way that wealth has been accumulated in this country that has caused harm when we value when we, you know, fear and were motivated by greed. Um, the acts that can result as a, as a result of that to exploit the land and to exploit people or what that’s what has caused the harm in itself. So, um, the case that I’m going to make in this book that I’m making in this book is that wealth and money can actually be used for the good. If it historically has been used as a negative thing that has caused trauma, we can flip that to use it for something that can actually help repair the harm that has been done. You’ve got seven,
6, 6 steps to that second half of your book. It’s time for a break. Turn to communications. They’ll help you find your voice and get that voice heard in the right places. Places like the Wall Street Journal, the new york Times, the Chronicle of philanthropy, fast Company Market Watch and lots of others you’ve heard me name. They’ll help you find your voice and get it out. Turn to communications, your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. Now back to de colonizing wealth. *** tony-martignetti Uh, that is your indian name. Did I by any chance say that correctly.
I think that’s correct. I’m a little shabby with my Ojibwe these days. You
don’t know your, you know,
you know that sounds, but
that is your indian name. Uh, leading bird, uh, tell the story of how you got that name. Well, welcome back to don’t welcome back to the exploitation and control, don’t we? Yeah, this is a good story, how you got that name.
So my tribe, the lumbee tribe in north Carolina doesn’t have a tradition of naming you are, whatever your mom calls you, that’s your name. Right. Right. So, um, but when I, when I was working in north Carolina and native communities, I went to a conference where there is a medicine man and some, when the medicine man was meeting with folks who wanted time with with him to, to talk or have a session and growing up in north Carolina, my identity as a native has always been quite complicated. We didn’t have these types of practices in my home in Raleigh north Carolina. And so, but I was very curious to meet with this medicine man and to um see what could happen from that encounter. And someone told me if you’re, if you’re really lucky when you meet with the medicine man, they might give you a spiritual name or a native name. Um, and so I met with this guy in the Marriott hotel in denver colorado or this, this native health conference. So it was all uh, tell the story in the book is quite um hilarious and in many ways, but at the end of our session where I was feeling um excited about, you know, the conversation we had but also a little confused and skeptical in some ways because I’ve, you know, had such a colonized ways of thinking. Um he did offer me a native name, Naghani pinochet, which means leading bird. Um, so I was very honored and my first thought was, what kind of bird? Right am I a little tweety bird or am I mighty eagle birds are best? So um he explained to me that I was the type of bird that flies in a V. Formation. Um, and as I when I left I studied these birds and and they’re the leading bird. I’m the leading birds leading bird. I’m the bird that flies in the front of the V. Formation, which is the kind of leader that is often visible but really understand its co dependence and interdependence on the other birds. And so if you watch birds flying in a V. Formation, it’s really like an amazing natural national phenomenon, how how they communicate and fly together. Uh the other thing that’s remarkable about the leading birds type of leadership is that it often will fly to the back of the pack and push another bird forward. So it’s not always the one that’s out front. And um when I, when I learned these characteristics, um I just felt really, um I was really, really happy and content about this name because I do see that’s the type of leadership that I model in my everyday life and I think it’s the type of leadership that’s really important for the nonprofit sector.
You explain how the birds communicate, which I’ve always wondered, uh, they’re, they’re just close enough that they can feel vibrations off each other and micro movements. I think you say off each other, but they’re not so close that they’re gonna bump into each other and, and you know, be injured. But that’s how they, and I guess they’re feeling the breeze off each other and sensing these micro movements of each other. So they’re that close but not so close. They’re gonna be injured, right?
It’s very, it’s very fascinating. It’s like a scientific, uh, you know, gPS built into their bodies. And the other thing I recently heard about these birds, um, is that you don’t ever find one that dies alone. And so, you know, I want to learn research that a little bit more. But I think when they’re when someone is down or you know, there’s an injury or whatever may happen. Uh, they, there’s there’s a certain way that they take care of each other. And so um, you know, it just kind of speaks to our common humanity and are interrelated, you know, being interrelated and
exactly our interdependence. Now this is a, this is an indigenous belief that we are all related and that’s what it makes me think of. The birds also absolutely working so closely together that they feel micro movements. But how explain this this belief that we are, each of one of us related to the, to all the other.
Yeah. So there there is a native belief um all my relations that means um you’re, all of our suffering is mutual, all of our thriving is mutual and uh you know we are, we are interdependent and so it’s a very different mindset or worldview from sort of the american individualistic type of mindset. Um we also have connected to that viewpoint is this idea of seven generations. So not only are we all related, you know, in this room right now and that we’re relatives um and we are related to the land and to the animals around us, but all of the things, all of the decisions and um that we are making today are going to impact future generations. So there’s an idea that I am someone’s ancestor and so what our responsibility to move through the world in a way that is thinking that far forward about our um our young people. And so these are concepts that were taught to me by my family, but also in recent years this book gave me the opportunity to revisit and spend time with indigenous elders to remember these teachings and and to think about how to apply them in my work
and you encourage us to each that each one of us takes responsibility for as you said, were thriving and suffering together. Um what I’m referring to is the each of us takes responsibility for the colonizer virus. Say more about that.
Yeah, so you know, I think are we all responsible?
responsible because we’re all affected. Um, I think some folks, when we, you know, we learn about colonization in schools is something that seems pretty normal, right? We um, we think of colonization and the colonizers as heroes like the natural path of progress. Absolutely
way it’s learned,
right? We have holidays, you know, for for Christopher columbus for example. And so but the realities are that colonization um, was something that was terrible that resulted in genocide and all types of exploitation. And uh, that type of history that we have in this country is something that we um, as as the people have not come to terms with, we actually we don’t tell the truth, we don’t face the truth. And so I think we’re still dealing with the consequences. Um, and so the dynamics of colonization which are uh, to divide to control, to exploit, to separate those dynamics. Um, you know, I I refer to them as the colonizing virus, because they they are still in our bodies as as a nation. They show up in our policies, our systems reflect the colonizer virus and in our institutions in the nonprofit sector, and especially in philanthropy, where we are sitting on lots of money, privilege and power.
naturally to your point about us, them organizations go ahead. So, you know, I think the philanthropy, for example, can perpetuate, um, you know, the dynamics of colonization because when you look at um uh where this where this money came from and how we as a sector don’t face the realities of that truth. When you look at ask the question of why this money was held back from public coffers, um that, you know, had it gone into the tax system, it would be supporting the safety net and vulnerable communities. Um And when you look at who gets to allocate, manage and spend it, you see a very um white dominant kind of mindset happening because for example, if we get into the numbers just a little bit um foundation set on $800 billion of assets. That’s a lot of money that has been uh you know, sheltered from taxation. That’s money that would have gone into public education, health care, elder care, um things that we need for the infrastructure of our communities, but that money has been put there with little to no accountability. Um Private foundations are only required by the I. R. S. To uh pay out 5% of their assets. And so then, you know, you’re looking at just a small percentage of money that was intended to be for the public good. Only a small percentage is actually leaving the doors being invested in community. Let’s assume
it’s uh I know there are a lot of Foundations that use that five minimum as their maximum. So that’s so 5% of that would be $40 billion. Uh So the counter is, but there’s $40 billion coming Each year. Could be more, but let’s take the minimum just to be conservative. And you know, we’re trying to preserve this uh this foundation capital for perpetuity. So if, you know, if we if we spent in the next two years, the 800 billion, then we wouldn’t have anything left for future, just future years and other generations were trying to, you know, we want to be around for in perpetuity. The foundations would say,
right, right. And you know, I think I think there is a case to be made for saving some funds for a rainy day in the future. But the truth is that 5%, when Congress had acted that 5% role, Um it actually began at 6%, I believe in 1974. And then in 1976 was lowered to 5%. The reason that Congress had to actually put this legislation forward is because foundations were not paying out any money. And so when you think about the intent of foundations, are they being started to actually benefit the public? Are are wealthy wealthy 1% or whoever corporations starting these foundations just for the sake of having A tax break. And so that that uh IRS minimum payout of 5%. That rule was put in place to force um foundations to actually begin making grants. And so, you know, so it is sort of the other thing to explore if you are with a 95%, that is not leaving the doors. Um, if the intention is really to do good in communities, we have to look at how that 95% is then being invested too, generate more money for future grantmaking And the truth there is that the majority of those funds are tied up and harmful and extract extractive industries, um, that are counterintuitive to the mission of foundation. You make the point
often uh, that often right, Those investments are in our industries that are hurting the very populations that the foundation is explicitly trying to help through its, through its mission. And, and in fact funding um, the uh, something else that was going to ask about the, the way the money is. Um, All right, we’ll come back to it if I think of it. Um, there’s there’s a lot that organizations can gain by hiring people of color indigenous people. What uh, and and very few. You’re, you’re a rare exception. Um, working in, in found doing foundation work. Uh, what’s the, make explicit those uh, those advantages?
Sure. So you’re right. I’m absolutely um an exception. I think when I started in philanthropy, I was one of 10 native Americans that I could find, we kind of found each other. What year was that? Uh, this was in 2005 And we are now, there’s about 25 of us now, the last time I counted. Um, so yeah, there’s, there’s, you know, an amazing opportunity for foundations and I think more and more foundations are understanding to bring folks in uh, 22 foundations that have lived experience
and not only foundations but nonprofits and Ngos doing the groundwork. Absolutely foundations of the funders. And of course some foundations are now actually doing their own groundwork. We’re seeing that emerging, but, but for the nonprofits doing the day to day work
represent the communities that you’re
absolutely, it kind of makes sense, right? And uh, you know, it’s funny because some foundations actually require that of non profits. They ask about the diversity of their staff and their board, but they themselves have no type of, you know, values around diversity of their staff. But you’re, you know, the point is that for sure that any non profit or foundation to, to have folks uh, that that work there who have authentic accountability to community and understand and have been impacted by the issues that you’re trying to solve is going to bring an awareness and um, you know about the problem in a different way. It’s going to create some proximity that I think is gonna just inform strategies. That that makes sense. And I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in strategic planning processes and board meetings where decisions were being made and I always carry my mother, my family with me, you know, in spirit, into the room and I hear these decisions are these conversations and I’m thinking like, oh my God, like you know this, you know, this this would not in any way help my mother or my family that still living in poverty. Decision makers disconnected, there’s such a disconnect.
Yeah, um and I I thought of what I was going to ask you about or just comment on the Foundation wise, we do see some Foundation saying that they’re going to spend down their assets. Uh I wouldn’t say it’s a needle moving, but you do hear that from time to time, that there’s a foundation that’s committed now to spending its its assets down, you know, uh was paul Allen, was that uh not paul Allen the Microsoft? I think the Microsoft founder, co founder who recently died, I think his foundation was paul Allen Okay, okay. Uh I was thinking of steve Allen comedy all comic, that’s why I thought, no, it wasn’t him, but it was paul Allen, I think his foundation is one, but there are some, so we do hear some glimmers, but you say in the book a few times people we need to move the needle.
Yeah, I think, I mean, I think deciding to spin down is a very progressive way of thinking about it. There’s so much need now um if we actually release the funds or even if you don’t want to spend down, you can make a decision to pay out more. Um there there’s a lot of amazing work happening um right now that is so under resource that if we could um support and get behind investing money in these various movements and these uh in communities of color which are so marginalized by philanthropy, you know, uh the 5% that is being invested, only 7 to 8% of those dollars are being invested in communities of color. That would make a big difference. And so I think um you know, I think it’s a conversation that the boards of Foundation should think about, what is the value of, you know, why why do we want to stay in perpetuity? Like what is that about a family legacy? Is that really about making a difference in the world? Because in some ways it feels I can see that has been a very selfish type of uh you know, uh way of thinking,
if this was CNN right now, I would I would play a video of you, but I don’t I don’t have that. But in your in your times, uh we have to work on that at talking alternative, we need we need video capture and screens and everything. Uh in your video, in your interview with David Bernstein new York times, uh you said by not investing more in communities of color philanthropy? Venture capital, impact investing in finance are missing out on rich opportunities to learn about solutions.
Yeah. You know, I think that I think of, you know, people of color indigenous folks as being the canaries in the coal mine sometimes when, when policies fail or systems fail, um, we hurt the hardest and uh, but there’s just something so magical about and sense of pride that I have about my community because we are so resilient regardless of um, you know, all of the trauma, the colonization, the um, you know, genocide stolen land, we still remain intact as a people. Um, and so there’s, there’s gotta be something magical about that resilience that I would, if I weren’t native, I would be interested to know like what, when you think about sustainability, you know, we have a corner on sustainability. Um, indigenous peoples around the world are on the frontlines of saving this planet on, you know, um, you know, really fighting for environmental protections. Um, there, there’s so much wisdom and you know, often foundations roll out new theories of changes are changes are see strategies or there’s a new model or theory theory of change that comes up and I’m like, wow, we’ve been doing that in our communities for years. If someone would have asked us, you know, maybe we can get there faster.
Is there still a lumbee community in Robinson robeson county?
Yes, there are, there are about 60,000 enrolled members in the lumbee tribe. The bulk of our community is still in Robertson County
now have a north Carolina driver’s license. Will that, will that get me in? Can I be a member?
You know, we were very inclusive. We, we, we’ll take, we’ll adopt you as an honorary brother, but you have to have a little bit more documentation to get officially enrolled. So it’s, it’s a stretch for an italian american with north Carolina license
player and, uh, driver’s license. All right. Um, you, you talk about, you know, I guess, I mean, we’re skirting around these things, Make it explicit the power imbalance, you know, that, um, minorities are seeking it. And uh, mostly middle aged white guys are, are doling it out. Uh, you know, piecemeal, um, the, the imbalance, you know, the grant, even the, even the word, you know, the granting, it’s like some, uh, I don’t know, it’s like some holy orders has, has bestowed upon you something that’s a gift when, uh, your, your belief is that your thesis in the book is that it’s, it’s a, it’s a right equally held by all,
yeah. You know, I think power and money, A lot of, a lot of this does come down to power and ownership. Um, we are talking in the nonprofit sector right now, a lot about equity, right? And equity is very different from diversity and inclusion. Um, to me, equity really is all about shifting power. And we often think about that from the lens of equality. So we’re going to have the same power, which is a good thing. But to really achieve equity, it’s gonna actually require that some folks who have had power for a long amount of time give up more power to take a
back seat. So that’s not gonna happen. You know, that’s, that’s highly unlikely. Like infant is really small, unlikely.
You know, it’s, it’s a hard thing for people to, uh, to think about. And especially if you have, if you’ve been privileged for so long, um, equity might actually feel like oppression for you, right? Because it’s like, you know, well, I, I, I have less than I’ve had. So, um, but you know, we, I want to think about this through an abundance of my frame. There’s enough, there’s enough resources, enough power to go around. Um, we just have to work together to make sure that we are privileging those who have not been privileged by that problem.
So I love that you, you approach it from a position of abundance and not, not scarcity. It’s time for Tony’s take to gratitude all day. This is coming up just next week. So this is something for folks that are listening to the show very quickly after it’s published. No, wait, what am I saying next week? Yeah, it’s this week. It’s this week september 1st and second. It’s gratitude all day, september 1st and second Wednesday and thursday, it’s online, It’s a live stream, you join and share with the world your gratitude. What are you grateful for health, your family, friends, good drinks, prosperity, uh safety. Uh you know, I’m thinking things that well, I don’t want to share my gratitude, I’m doing that, you’ll, you’ll hear what I’m doing mine, I can’t give you mine now, I can’t do that now. So I’m trying to think of what your gratitude might be. Uh wonderful vacation blossoming flowers over the summer. Uh you got approved for your life insurance policy, you bought your new home, you sold your old home, your kids are starting college, your kids are leaving college, whatever you’re grateful for you get the idea, you join the live stream on Wednesday and thursday the 1st and 2nd and you share it with the world whatever you’re grateful for now, The best time to do this is 7-9 eastern on Wednesday september 1st because that’s the part that I’ll be hosting. See, there are different hosts throughout hosts throughout the 24 hours and I’m the hostess for 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern Wednesday night. The whole thing runs from one p.m. On Wednesday to one pm Thursday. So the best time to share your slot, share your gratitude is my slot because that’s you know, you don’t want to take a chance with with a lackluster host when you can have a lackluster host of your segment. So 79 p. M. That’s, that’s the best time to share your gratitude, although you certainly can do it anytime during the 24 hours. And where do you get all the info for gratitude all day. It’s very simple. You go to gratitude rising dot org Now if you can’t join us because you didn’t listen to the podcast the day or the day after it was published, then just do your own gratitude. You don’t have to share it with the world. Do you? Do you do daily gratitude? You know what that is in the morning when you wake up, you you just, you’re beyond the twilight zone, but you haven’t gotten out of bed yet. A couple of minutes devoted to daily gratitude. Now I don’t do it daily, but I do it often verbalizing, saying them out loud, verbalizing the things that you are grateful for, think through and go into depth about the things I’m grateful for just talking to myself, but saying them out loud. So if you can’t join us for gratitude all day, do your own day gratitude and hopefully daily gratitude that way. But I love the idea of just gratitude, giving thanks and sharing it if you can. But even even saying it out loud is, you know, sharing it with yourself. It makes a difference saying it out loud versus just thinking about it. It does, That’s gratitude and that is Tony’s take two. Now back to de colonizing wealth. Now I want to go back to Edgar Villanueva. Edgar. Villanueva. See, I thought he would pronounce his name. Edgar And I was wrong. And but that’s that’s why I said Edgar. But it’s Edgar. Edgar. A gravel in river. And de colonizing wealth. Welcome back. You didn’t go far.
Thanks for having me. Okay. I’ll still be here. Yes, absolutely.
You haven’t done anything that would lead me to shut your mic off. Um It hasn’t happened, I’ve threatened, but it hasn’t happened. So let’s, let’s start getting uh positive. You know, the second, roughly the second half of your book is seven steps to healing. Um, And uh, I thought you came up like five short. I mean, we have another 12 steps. I mean, if you want to, if you want to share power, you’re gonna have to have, you got to step it up with like 12 steps or, or even 15, you know, you have more than the colonizers. Uh, but but the seven steps are in themselves. They’re they’re pretty radical.
Yeah. You know, it’s funny because I did have some resistance to having seven steps, right? Because it makes it seem like there’s a there’s a quick and easy fix. If I just do these seven things, then we’re done with this and we can move on
prime number. So that
I think that’s that’s unique. I don’t know why, but yeah, so, you know, but I did need to simplify the process in some ways just to help us get our minds around, uh, you know, a process that we can begin. but there is no linear way or a quick way to um, to solve, all these problems or to, to undo what has been done. But there are ways to, to, to move forward and the steps to healing for me where are
listening out for us, just list all seven and then we’ll
talk about, I’m sure. So they’re grieve, apologize, listen, relate, represent, invest and repair. Okay.
Um, so you’ve been thinking about this for a while. I mean this, uh, I just did, I admire though. I admire the thinking that goes into this.
Yeah. So some of it comes from my own personal experience, um, when it kind of coming to terms and with the sector that I’m working in and the disconnection that I felt as a native person in the space and spending time in my community to just re ground myself and my values and um, and kind of acknowledging the wisdom that was in my body and in my community that I could bring to the space. Um, the other parts of it come from, I did lots of interviews with folks who work in nonprofits and philanthropy who were, I think of very forward thinking people in the space activists who are leading movements around the country to get to a place of, you know, what, what, what have you gone through personally to kind of reconcile some of this. Um, and then, you know, a lot of this is also based on an indigenous restorative justice model. So we hear a lot about restorative justice um, in the nonprofit sector. Now, this is a method that’s used in schools and in the criminal justice system to help people deal with things that have gone wrong to kind of get back on the right track. And so this is a model that has come from indigenous communities where we um sit in circle with the offender with someone who has harmed us or done us wrong to get to a place of truth and reconciliation.
So, uh, grieving, uh, you say everybody, I mean because of our inter relatedness where we all need to grieve, including the people of color and indigenous, you know, those who have been oppressed.
Absolutely, we all need to grieve. Um, we need to get to a place where we’re just very clear and honest about the history of this country. What has happened, what the idea of, um, you know, white supremacy, which is not a real thing, right? But why the idea of subscribing to that the harm and the loss that has calls for people of color, but also white people. And uh, you know, I think that’s uh, we it’s pretty clear the trauma and the harm that has been caused a community of color. It’s not so clear. We don’t talk about it very much the loss that uh, the colonization and uh, the idea of white supremacy has actually caused in white communities. But it’s uh, it is, there is a loss there. I talk about it in the book um, of the idea that white people came from from communities where they had cultures and uh tribal ways of, of interacting in many cases um languages and things that were given up in order to assimilate to this idea of being american. And I think now we’re seeing folks feeling a sense of loss about that. That’s why if you see these commercials for these DNA tests are so popular right now because everyone wants to kind of remember where they’re from and they feel connected to that in some way.
Um, and um the the thing you talk about too is uh the orphans orphans, you say that those of us who are descendants of, of the, of the settlers you call us orphans, how’s that
I call them orphans. This is a term apart from some research that has been done on whiteness and it is, it’s kind of speaking to this idea of loss. Again, sort of giving up the culture that maybe from from, from the home country, from where where folks, settlers came from giving up those, those ways of being interacting in community to subscribe to this individualistic way of being in America. And so with that there’s been a lost of sort of that, that mother country um for lots of white folks and a loss of identity because although, you know, I’m not anti american, let me be very clear about that, this is the greatest country in the world. I’m very proud to be a citizen of this country. Um, but there is something about leaving behind and not remembering where you originated from in order to adopt sort of this new culture here. Um you know, and and not um that that makes you feel sort of like an orphan. If you’re not, you have no connection to where your grandparents or from or the language they spoke with, the culture they have. Um and I feel that that’s a loss for many white communities. That is actually a feeling that is shared with communities of color. Um, and if we recognize that loss in that trauma that we have in common, um it opens doors for a different type of conversation about race.
You said a few minutes ago that white supremacy is is not a real not real. Why? Why do you say that? Well, I mean, there’s a white supremacist movement, uh, how are you thinking about it that you say it’s not real?
Um Well, well, the idea that that uh, you know, a certain group of people, white people are superior because of the pigment of their skin is not a real thing. Right? So this wasn’t an ideology that was created um in order to be able to have the types of oppressive movements and systems and policies that have been put in place for many years. And so it is a mindset that has been uh you know, an idea that is not real, but we have built systems and um societal norms around that. You know, growing up I was taught that you know, are sort of the default for me was whiteness, was was better. And so if I were to behave or dress or act in a certain way that appeared to be more white than that was going to be a better thing for me. And so we know that the idea of white supremacy is, you know, the idea of it is not real, but there are very real implications and for how we have adopted that, that belief. All right.
Um and you’re you also encourage uh nonprofits and teams to have a grieving space while we’re talking about, we’re talking about grieve, we just have about a minute before a break, but and then we’ll move on with the seven steps, but what’s a grieving space in an office.
Yeah. So you know, these these steps are our personal, but it can be applied in organizational setting. And so I think especially those of us working in the nonprofit where we’re supporting communities, we need to have space spaces in our in our our work live to be able to talk about bad things that have happened and to grieve that and to feel emotion to be human about it. And so, you know, I share some research in the book and some antidotes of folks who have have done that, and the research shows that there um it’s actually um leads to a much more productive workplace to have moments where we we stopped the work to actually grieve and acknowledge the events are happening, you know, in our communities.
The book is de colonizing wealth, just, just, just get the book, you know, because we can only scratch the surface of it here in an hour. But uh, de colonizing wealth dot com, that’s where you go. I like the idea of the grieving space, you know, uh acknowledge, you know, everything doesn’t go well all the time. It’s impossible. No organization succeeds 100% nothing. So give yourselves time and space to talk about it, acknowledge it, learn from it and and move on rather than it being some cloud over the organization that everybody’s afraid to talk about or something, you know, it’s how how how oppressive is that
very oppressive and in philanthropy is especially because we were sort of carrying around these these secrets of like how this wealth was amassed or secrets that are within these families that um, you know, many people feel bad about. And so we just need to kind of, you know, be truthful and honest about the history and spend time grieving over that so that we can move forward as you said,
and and that was the next step in terms of uh, your next step apologizing recognizing which includes recognizing the source of the foundation money. I mean, you worked for the Reynolds KB is KB. Reynolds Foundation Reynolds tobacco north Carolina. You know that money was raised on the backs of slaves. Um, I’m not going to ask you if the KGB Reynolds Foundation acknowledges that, but that’s an example of what we’re talking about in the, in the step apologizing.
Absolutely no, there was, there was no acknowledgement of that. And uh, chapter one of the book is called my arrival in the plantation because our foundation offices were literally on the former estate or plantation of R. J. Reynolds. And so, uh, really literally and metaphorically I was, I was working there. But no, there was, there was, there was no acknowledgement of that. And I think you see that, you know, in, in north Carolina, recently, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina acknowledged that the history of slaves and building that university and that some of the buildings there named after a former slave owners, what most people of color want. Um, it’s just to be seen and heard and for folks to make that recognition
acknowledge and maybe move to apology. Perhaps that didn’t johns Hopkins University do something similar that, that they had, their founders were uh, johns Hopkins, their founders were slave owners.
I think Georgetown University
Georgetown. Sorry, thank you. Okay. Georgetown, there were pre right. There were priests, uh, priest founders that were slave
owners. That’s right, actually, no. Um a friend of mine who lives in New Orleans as a black woman who is a descendant um and was called to Georgetown to share about her family’s history. And it was a beautiful moment. They set in community together, talking about the history talk acknowledging the contributions of her ancestors. And there’s a big right up in in the paper and you know, this has been a very uh healing I think for the university, but also from for my friend Karen, um who is now having that, you know, that recognition that the contributions of her ancestors, you talk a
good bit about the reconciliation process in South Africa. Um Canada, uh you gotta get the book. I mean, we can’t we can’t tell all these stories. I mean, I know listeners, I know I know you love stories as much as I do, but there’s just not enough time to just get the damn book. Just go to de colonizing wealth dot com, for Pete’s sake. You go right now, if you’re listening live, where are you poughkeepsie? It’s connected. He uh Nottingham Maryland just go to de colonizing wealth dot com. Um okay, listening, you talk about and empathic and generative listening.
Right? So, you know, often um, when we, when we moved through a process like this, we feel bad, we’ve apologized. Um uh, the default sort of like dominant culture way of being is like, okay, I’m done with that. I’m going to move forward. And so, but before you move for an act, you just need to pause to actually listen, Uh, to listen and learn. So to, uh, for, for non profits. You know, I ran a nonprofit, I’ve worked in philanthropy for 14 years. When I asked nonprofits what is the number one thing that you wish funders would do differently? The response is always, I just wish they would listen. Uh, because there’s something about having resources, money, privilege and power when we enter the room, there’s a power dynamic where we automatically feel that we can control the airspace and we have an agenda and the non profits are going to be responsive to what we want. And you know, that often is the case. But the best way to really build a relationship with folks where there is a difference in power and privileges is to actually stop and listen. Put aside your own assumptions and, and try as best you can to put yourself in their shoes to understand their experience and their history. It’s just, it’s just going to make you a better person, uh, feel like listening as a human, right? We all want to be, We all deserve to be heard. And so that is just something that we have to keep reminding folks who have privilege is to, um, to, to stop at times to also listen and to let others be hard put aside the white savior complex. Absolutely. Uh,
listening. We talked about, we talked about that a lot on the show in terms of just donors. And I know you’re next, you’re next step is relating versus being transactional. And that’s, that’s, that’s the beginning of a relationship. As you said. You know, listening, genuine hearing, uh, two whether its donor’s or potential potential grantees. Um, there, there’s a lot to be learned.
It goes back to the
value of bringing, representing the communities that you’re, that you’re serving. Uh, okay. So relation you want us to, uh, you want to relate, let me ask you, you, you, you read, um, how to win friends and influence people. You say dozens of times. You said it doesn’t, I have trouble reading a dozen pages in a book. You’ve read one book dozens of times. Uh, what do you take away time after reading? Uh, the L Carnegie’s book dozens of times.
Well, you know, I still have an original copy from that. I, um, I stole from the library of uh, my mom was a domestic worker and she was caring for frail elderly man. Um, they had this vast library. So I end up with this little book that you stole from an infirm elderly elderly man. I feel terrible about a book. It haunts me to this day. So this is a public, you
didn’t even think to leave like $20 or something
on the table and have it if I had it at that. All right. Um So hopefully this is my my way of giving back, this is my reparations for for that that wrong. But you know, and the one take away from me in that book uh is uh is really kind of connected to relating and listening. Um is when you’re when you’re talking to folks, people just really want to be heard. So mostly you should listen. Um And if you actually just listen more than talk, people are gonna think that you’re a great friend like well Edgar that was such a nice time with you. But even if I didn’t say much and so yeah, it’s really about listening and letting others feel that they are important because they are um you know, we I think people just feel so invisible these days that just by giving people that moment of feeling hurt and connecting with something that they are interested in. Um It’s just gonna really take you much further in building a relationship
and stop the transactional, the transactional thinking. Um You have you you have an example of uh um a like building design, like office design. Kitchens, you’d love to see a kitchen in the center of of offices.
Yeah. You know so sort of like these ideas of like the colonizing virus infects every aspect of our community. So yes, even the way buildings are designed especially buildings that are financial institutions. Think about what banks look like when you walk in and with with all the marble and you know, hard edges, absolutely foundation offices where you have to go through five levels of security to get in as if we’re as if the millions of dollars were in the office. Right? And so we just threw even how we design our offices. And um, you know, the way they appear can be super intimidating for folks who are coming in who need access to resources.
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Absolutely. So uh, one of the steps of the book is represent and what you look at the, uh, the demographics of the nonprofit sector and especially in foundations that part of the sector. We still have a long ways to go with diversity, particularly when you look at the board of directors and the ceo positions folks who really hold power in organizations. So what are the, what are the ideas that I put forth in the book? Is that foundations should have a requirement that at least 51% or at least 50% of their boards to reflect the communities they serve. Um, this would drastically change what, you know, shake up what the seats on the bus look like. But this isn’t this, uh, far from what is required of, of many nonprofits. Funders actually are, you know, requiring this, of their nonprofit, that their funding, um, and many government organizations that receive government funding, federal funding have these types of requirements that the folks who sit on the boards must be folks who are benefiting from the services of those nonprofits.
Again, representative? Absolutes, yeah, that’s a, that’s a stretch. 51%.
It’s a stretch. It’s a stretch. But, you know, um, the conversation has, has been zero about it. So I figured, you know, if we put something a bold vision out there to help us imagine what’s possible, maybe we’ll get a little bit further down the road.
And there are some examples you cite the novo Foundation in the book. Uh, they have a women’s building that they’re, they’re repurposing some old warehouse or something to turn into this building and, and the decisions being made by, by women who are going to be using the
building. Absolutely. There’s some great examples of foundations and funds that are um, really, um, putting these values into practice in their work. Novo is, is a foundation that I really appreciate. Jennifer and Peter Buffett, the founders of the Novo Foundation, wrote the forward to my book. And they are folks that you, if you get to know them, you can see that they have done this work. Um, and it shows up in how they give, they are a foundation that absolutely sits in community and listens um, to folks who are impacted by, especially women and girls, which is an issue they really care about and they fund in a way that is responsive to what they really need versus what the foundations agenda might be.
Is it no vote that funds for five years or seven years? It’s guaranteed you cite this in the book, no matter how much trouble you’re having in year 123, you’re going to be funded for five or seven years for their initial commitment.
Right, Right. And, and that type of long term commitment is, uh, you know, something that, that is the best type of funding, you know, folks can be, you can focus on building relationship versus so I’ve got to meet these certain objectives, so I can keep getting this money year after year and so to be relieved of that, that pressure of thinking about where am I gonna, you know, how am I going to pay the salaries next year? Um really allows folks to have the freedom to think about the actual work that they’re doing in communities
and and planning and and can plans that are being
one only 1 or two
years. Um so we kind of mishmash together, you know, relating and representing um investing.
So investing is really a call to philanthropy to think about using all of its resources for um for for the public good, right. And so we are not going to be a sector that achieves equity that that is really moving the needle issues If we’re supporting with the 5% in our right hand, Really good work, you know, mission-related work. But in our left hand we are investing 95% of our resources in um industries and causes that are extractive that are, you know, really canceling out the positive of of our resources. So, you know, there are great foundations like the Nathan Cummings Foundation for example, who just recently declare that 100% of their assets, their entire corpus is going to be used in support of their mission.
Uh Again, other examples in the book and uh we just have about a minute or so before we have to wrap up actually. Um, so talk about your final step, which is
the final step is repair. Um, all of us who are philanthropists are givers and as we’re getting close to the end of this year, we are all philanthropists. I’m supporting, um, nonprofits in our communities. Think about how we can use money as medicine, how can we give in a way that is helping to repair the harm that has been done by colonization in, in, in this country. And so think about looking your personal portfolio. Are you giving to at least one organization of color um, to support grassroots leadership? So reach across, um, and support folks who may not look like you invest in ways that are helping to unite us versus thinking about some of the traditional ways of giving that have not been, uh, you know, along the lines of thinking or exercising these types of values.
Okay, so I’ll give you the last 30 seconds, uh, in the way that the way I learned that natives are the original philanthropists was by what you, what you talk about your mom.
Yes. So, you know, I think a lot of giving, when we look at giving in this country, the biggest philanthropist, philanthropist or folks who are giving the most highest percentage of their income incomes are actually poor people. And so I do talk about my mom in the book, um, who, um, was, uh, you know, is actually very low income and but yet she gave to our community and and how to run a ministry of our church to support Children,
the bus ministry,
the bus ministry.
Just gotta, you gotta get the book,
you got to read the bus ministry and so it’s giving of time treasure and talent, not just resources and so all of us who are caring for our communities in ways that are um you know through love is uh we’re all philanthropists
get the book, go to de colonizing wealth dot com. Edgar Villanueva, thank you so much.
Thank you for having me on tony real pleasure
next week converting followers to donors with Adora drake, if you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com were sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot C. O. And by sending blue, the only all in one digital marketing platform empowering non profits to grow tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in Blue, our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff to show social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott stein, thank you for that. Affirmation scotty Be with me next week for nonprofit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95 go out and be great. Mhm Yeah