Edgar Villanueva Urges Philanthropy to Fuel Racial Justice Movement

Edgar Villanueva, Lumbee author of Decolonizing Wealth, is challenging philanthropic institutions to take deliberate action toward racial justice.

Edgar Villanueva, who is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, author of Decolonizing Wealth, and founder of Liberated Capital, has long been a megaphone for realigning the nonprofit sector with the values and realities of Indian Country.

“Oftentimes, there is a top-down approach tied to [a funder’s] agenda, rather than what works best in our communities, so it doesn’t necessarily resonate in terms of expectations and outcomes,” he previously told Native Business.

READ MORE: Decolonizing Philanthropy: Edgar Villanueva Wants to Change How You Think About ‘Helping’ Native Communities

His book Decolonizing Wealth includes a foreword written by Peter Buffett, son of investing and business magnate Warren Buffett, and Peter’s wife Jennifer, that sheds light on a pattern of disconnect between those in positions of power and the marginalized peoples they may seek to serve. As the Buffets write in the book, they have observed that rooms full of wealthy and powerful white men do not possess the wisdom they need to make these informed decisions. 

In Decolonizing Wealth, Villanueva educates people about genocide, slavery, disenfranchisement and their after effects, while offering a pathway to empower healing. “I want to compel folks with resources to understand how to help our communities without taking the standard linear approach,” he says.

Liberated Capital is Villanueva’s philanthropic initiative designed to practice the values of reciprocity and equity outlined in the book Decolonizing Wealth.

In the wake of a global uprising in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a correlated increase in awareness of the need to direct philanthropic funding to benefit people of color, Villanueva is speaking up once again about how money is medicine. He recently released a statement challenging philanthropic institutions across the country to take deliberate and intentional action toward racial justice.

“Our communities are in mourning. We mourn the murders of Black people and reel from the spike in police violence against justified outrage. The time for empty solidarity statements has passed — philanthropy must take accountable action and release an unprecedented amount of unrestricted funds to fuel long-term Black-led movements for racial justice. This moment requires absolutely nothing less if we profess to be dedicated to justice.”

The Liberated Capital fund — directed by the Decolonizing Wealth Project — aims to move untethered resources that can help shape a future to heal generations of colonial trauma.

Since the pandemic hit, Liberated Capital has been funding relief efforts in Native American communities. The fund is expanding its current focus to support building influence and power and capacity to fight the perpetuated systems of racism that continue to oppress Black, Native and other communities of color. 

Read Villanueva’s full statement here.

READ MORE: Tonight’s Sold-Out NYC Book Launch of ‘Decolonizing Wealth’ to Benefit Native Youth




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