NYT Interviews Schott Foundation VP Edgar Villanueva
When America’s philanthropic and social sector were developed early in the 20th century, the design resembled elements of colonial social architecture: bureaucracy, competition, specialization and consolidation of power and resources, Edgar Villanueva writes in his new book, “Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance.”
Mr. Villanueva, who has held leadership positions in philanthropy, and is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, argues that philanthropy in the United States continues to transmit a “colonizing virus” by remaining “top-down, closed-door and expert-driven.”
“Writing this book, I started from a place of pain,” Mr. Villanueva said. “I was angry. But there’s plenty of books that criticize. What would I do differently? I felt like I had to push through to a place where I’m offering a different way of thinking.”
I sat down with Mr. Villanueva recently to discuss his book — a compassionate call for change and healing. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.