If your library has a copy of this book, published in 2018, borrow it and if nothing more, read the terrific foreword written by Jennifer and Peter Buffett. If you have more time, plunge into the book. The introduction is titled “What if Money Could Heal Us.” I read the first sentences and thought, as much as I loved the foreword, I’m not the audience Villanueva seeks: “This is a book for people who direct the flow of money. The more money you direct, the more this book is for you. You may be a philanthropist, an investor, or a funds manager, you may work for a foundation, a bank, or a community.” But then Paragraph 2: “Whoever you are, you are welcome. As I explain, in my own Native American belief system we are all relatives, literally all related to one another. We are also all infected with what I call the ‘colonizer virus,’ which urges us to divide, control, and exploit. Nowhere is the virus more symptomatic than in how we deal with wealth.” OK, I was in.
Part One is “Where It Hurts” and Part Two is “How to Heal.” Villanueva works in philanthropy, has seen from the inside how the colonizer virus has infected, determined, the structures of philanthropic organizations and the world of finance. Wealthy white men (primarily) sit in their beautifully decorated headquarters, some looking remarkably like plantation houses, quite separated from the communities they purportedly serve, peruse applications for funding, and call those in need of their help to come to them and answer their list of questions. We have money, you don’t.
Villanueva made me recall a conversation I had with a bond manager during which he proudly said that he deals only in the mostly highly rated municipal bonds. I thought that sounded good at the time. Why take on risk you don’t have to, at the cost of giving up a little return? Well, the bond raters are infected with the same colonizer virus that the money managers are. Money flows toward money.
But, really, read this introduction.