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Book Club reading: Decolonizing Wealth

Law and Public Policy Thought Leaders

Book Club reading: Decolonizing Wealth


By Ryan Rodriguez, grants manager, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta regularly posts book reviews on topics related to philanthropy on its blog. Here’s a recent selection.

When I made the decision to enter the philanthropic sector nearly 20 years ago, I did so out of a deeply embedded sense of wanting to give back some of the goodness that I had received – and continue to receive. A kind of balancing the scales of fortune, if you will.

In Decolonizing Wealth, Edgar Villanueva offers a thought-provoking analysis of philanthropy through the lens of his Native American belief system. An award-winning practitioner in the field of philanthropy, Villanueva argues that philanthropy and other financial institutions perpetuate the colonial tenets of division, control and exploitation.

He begins by sharing his “journey into the heart of philanthropy, past the field’s glamorous, altruistic façade, into its shadows.” At times, it’s an uncomfortable journey and he comes through with seven steps to healing; ideas on what we can do to decolonize the institutions and processes around money – where we “embrace a new paradigm of connect, relate, belong.”

This may be a radical view to some of the philanthropic sector, and I think it encourages all of us to ask ourselves some difficult questions as we continue to tackle the tough work of healing our communities.

What are your thoughts?