Award-Winning Foundation Executive Edgar Villanueva Releases New Book Tackling Issues of Race and Inequity in Philanthropy and Finance

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Decolonizing Wealth interweaves personal storytelling with field research and dozens of funder interviews.

Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, by Edgar Villanueva

What if we could use wealth to heal rather than cause further harm? What if funders, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs could help restore the earth? — Jennifer and Peter Buffett, taken from the book Foreword

Award-winning philanthropy executive Edgar Villanueva draws from the wisdom of Indigenous People as a way of prescribing a cure for restoring balance and healing our divides. After fourteen years in philanthropy, Villanueva has seen past the field’s glamorous, altruistic façade and into its shadows: the old-boy networks, the savior complexes, and the internalized oppression among the “house slaves” and those select few people of color who gain access into this elite world.

Though it seems counterintuitive, the philanthropic industry has evolved to mirror colonial structures of the not-so-distant past and reproduces hierarchy, ultimately doing more harm than good.

All these funders reflect and perpetuate the same underlying dynamics that divide Us from Them and the haves from the have-nots. In equal measure, Villanueva denounces the reproduction of systems of oppression while also advocating for an orientation toward justice to open the floodgates for a rising tide that lifts all boats. He offers radical provocations to funders and outlines his Seven Steps for Healing.

Decolonizing Wealth is a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance.

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

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