You’ve probably heard of the racial wealth gap: White Americans control nearly seven times as much wealth per household as black Americans do.
That discrepancy, argues Edgar Villanueva, translates directly into a racial philanthropy gap: a bias in how that wealth is dispersed, which keeps control away from people of color, and minimizes donations to groups run by people of color for the benefit of communities of color.
Instead, Villanueva, a veteran foundation official currently at the Schott Foundation for Public Education, argues that the lack of diversity in foundation hiring, and lack of social ties to nonwhite communities, has led the philanthropic sector to reinforce racial inequalities as much or more than it remedies them. In his book Decolonizing Wealth, Villanueva tries to lay out new approaches that foundations can use to break out of that pattern, and use the wealth they control as a way to empower marginalized communities.
We had a Skype conversation about the book, and Villanueva’s recommendations for donors, a few weeks ago. A transcript, edited for clarity and length, follows.