Edgar Villanueva: Healing Our Collective Trauma Around Money

Ryan Honeyman
4 min readDec 8, 2021


Return guest, Edgar Villanueva is a globally-recognized activist, award-winning author, and an expert on issues of race and philanthropy, as well as the Principle and Founder of the Decolonizing Wealth Project (DWP) and Liberated Capital. His bestselling book, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, which was first published in 2018 and had its second edition published in 2021, has been called “a wake-up call to philanthropy.”

Edgar advises a range of organizations, including national and global philanthropies, Fortune 500 companies, and entertainment on social impact strategies to advance racial equity, both within and through investment strategies. He sits on the boards of Mother Jones, NDN Collective, and Andrus Family Fund, and also is the board chair of Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP).

He has appeared on the show twice before, and we invited him back to discuss the recent release of the second edition of his book, what he is most excited about now, and some of the emerging opportunities he is exploring in 2021 and looking ahead to 2022, as well as what progress he believes has has been made on the movement to decolonize wealth. We also touch on donor fragility, the ‘whitelash’ against BIPOC nonprofits, and the spiritual component to the work of shifting behavior, attitudes, and practices around equity. Tune in today!

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Key Points From This Episode:

  • The second edition of Decolonizing Wealth and how it offers further opportunities for healing.
  • White fragility, donor fragility, and the value of taking an Indigenous world view approach.
  • What has changed since the first edition in 2018, from power dynamics to endowment funds.
  • The tension between centering philanthropists and what should be common practice.
  • What Edgar calls the ‘whitelash’ against BIPOC organizations finally receiving resources.
  • More on the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital Fund and their focus on reparations, reconciliation, and narrative change.
  • Addressing the trauma of wealth and poverty and the healing that DWP facilitates.
  • How Edgar has come to accept and embrace his identity as a healer.
  • Resources offered by DWP and how you can contribute to the decolonize wealth movement.
  • The roles that reciprocity, relationship-building, and liberation play in philanthropy.

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“There’s a system at play that is rigged to provide accumulated advantages for white folks, especially white folks with wealth, and there’s a system that has provided accumulated disadvantages for others.” — @VillanuevaEdgar

“There is what I call a ‘whitelash’, an undercurrent that’s happening right now where — because people of color are finally beginning to get some resources — the industry is trying to hold us to a different standard and wants to police us around that.” — @VillanuevaEdgar

“To really shift our behavior, and attitudes, and practices around equity, there is a spiritual component to that work. Part of [what] gets in the way is that we haven’t done our own healing.” — @VillanuevaEdgar

“The trauma that poverty imposes on communities and the trauma we have about money has to be healed. We have to be ready to receive the abundance.” — @VillanuevaEdgar

“We’re liberating the money, we’re liberating you, we’re liberating the community [from having] to answer to anyone.” — @VillanuevaEdgar

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Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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Ryan Honeyman

Partner / Worker-Owner at LIFT Economy. Co-author of “The B Corp Handbook.” Co-host of the Next Economy Now podcast. www.lifteconomy.com