About that New York Times piece, “What the Rich Won’t Tell You…”

About that New York Times piece, "What the Rich Won't Tell You..."

In a piece published last week in the New York Times, “What the Rich Won’t Tell You,”[1] Rachel Sherman shares her research of how wealthy, mostly liberal, people hide some of the clues that they’re among the richest people in the country — self-hating benefactors of a deeply unjust and racist economic system. I grew up in a wealthy family; I have lived through countless situations where downplaying my wealth was positioned both as the polite and the moral thing to do. But unlike the families mentioned in Sherman’s piece, my discomfort with my wealth wasn’t tamed by ‘hiding tags’ or ‘bragging about shopping at Target.’ I found my way to Resource Generation, a nonprofit founded by young, wealthy, progressive women in partnership with poor and working class leaders to figure out how wealthy people can be transparent about their class and access to wealth in order to better support movements for economic and racial justice.

Hiding or staying silent about our wealth and class empowers a deeply unjust and racist economic system. The truth is, the compulsion to hide your class or wealth isn’t about politeness at all; it’s your gut telling you that your lifestyle (being able to … Continue reading »

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#DefendDACA — Resource Generation Stands with Immigrant Youth

#DefendDACA -- Resource Generation Stands with Immigrant Youth

We stand with the immigrant youth and families that are being targeted by the Trump administration’s announcement to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the next six months. No human being is illegal, period.

Today’s announcement is the most recent in a long list of violent, racist moves by the Trump administration targeting immigrants, refugees, Black people, and people of color — including the Muslim ban, covering for white nationalists in Charlottesville, pardoning Sheriff Arpaio from his ruthless and disgusting crimes, and rescinding the ban on military gear for local police.

In perpetuating white supremacy, xenophobia, and racism as an alleged means to create ‘safety’ or ‘economic security,’ the Trump administration is re-enacting tactics that have been deployed by the overwhelmingly white and wealthy ruling classes for generations. Hoarding wealth, exploiting poor and working-class communities, gutting corporate regulations, and forcing austerity on the 99% are the causes of economic insecurity, not immigrants. As young people with wealth who believe in another way — a future where wealth, land, and power are equitably shared — we need to show up today to be in solidarity with immigrant youth and #DefendDACA.

Show up. Today (Tuesday, September 5th) is a massive Continue reading »
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Outclassed: wealth, the myth of meritocracy, and affirmative action

Outclassed: wealth, the myth of meritocracy, and affirmative action

Universities have long been a political battleground representing some of the United States’ most deeply held beliefs about meritocracy, who belongs, and who is “deserving” of higher education. I’m an Asian American who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The political currents swirling around my alma mater land in a particular way for me as a young wealthy Asian American alumnus who cares about racial justice and whose family has benefited from affirmative action.  

UNC is a public university built by enslaved Black people in 1789 and was only open to white wealthy Christian men until 1887 (when white women were admitted) and didn’t admit its first Black students until 1951. UNC has been deeply shaped by white supremacy and segregation and the measures it has taken to repair some of the harm through affirmative action are currently being challenged. A lawsuit filed in 2014 alleges, “Sadly, Asians in particular are being discriminated against at UNC because lesser-qualified African-Americans, Hispanics — and even whites — are gaining admission at the expense of better-qualified Asians.”  (This is not true – in fall 2016 the first-year class of UNC was 14% Asian American when Asians represent about 3% … Continue reading »

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From Trust Fund to Funding Trust

From Trust Fund to Funding Trust

This past June, I made a gift of $80,000 to a social justice foundation in Boston called Haymarket. Simply put, I was able to give away $80,000 because I got it from my parents. The day after I graduated from college, they sat down with me in my half-packed bedroom and let me know that I was the owner of a trust fund worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was news to me, but it wasn’t exactly a shock; thanks to my parents’ careers in finance, I’d grown up squarely in the 1%, complete with fancy vacations, beautiful apartments, and four years at a boarding school where every freshman had their own horse. (Yes, that is a real thing.)

I stumbled across Resource Generation’s website a year later. (I found RG on the internet, of course — where else do millennials find things?) At the time, I’d done basically nothing with the money in my trust fund. Whenever I thought about it, I felt a wave of anxiety. I cared about building a more just and equal world and I knew that holding onto the money went against those values. But what if I gave it away and then … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, GIving

“As the South goes…” – Our Reflections on Charlottesville

“As the South goes…” - Our Reflections on Charlottesville

We’re sharing with you some reflections on Charlottesville and why organizing young people with wealth toward economic and racial justice is so increasingly critical.

As Southerners from different class backgrounds, Iimay Ho, our Executive Director, and Jes Kelley, our Retreat Organizer, were both deeply impacted by what happened this weekend and are uniquely situated to share their reflections on this moment.

From Iimay
The events of this past weekend struck close to home. I have friends and comrades who were in Charlottesville as part of the counter-protest. I was a Virginia resident for nine years (I just recently moved to D.C.) and have visited Charlottesville. When I’m in Charlottesville I’m reminded of my college days at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both UNC and the University of Virginia were founded in the late 1700s/early 1800s. Both are gorgeous campuses with lush green quads and red brick Colonial buildings. Both were built by enslaved Africans and African-Americans and the names of slaveholders adorn the buildings. At UNC, the statue of Silent Sam stands as a memorial to the UNC alumni who fought for the Confederacy. Friday’s white supremacist torch-bearing rally at UVA converged around a group of counter-protesters … Continue reading »

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On the Road for Wealth Redistribution

On the Road for Wealth Redistribution

I just returned from my first chapter visits as an Executive Director. When I started this role back in January I wanted to prioritize meeting as many chapter members in person as possible. In both current and previous position (before becoming the ED, I was the Associate Director from August of 2014 through December of 2016) at Resource Generation I haven’t had many chances to interact with chapter members outside of national retreats. As someone who got my start in RG through a chapter (shout out to the D.C. chapter!), I miss the day-to-day interactions with members and getting grounded in a local context. I also wanted to hear directly from our members what is exciting them about RG and what feedback they have for our work.

Iimay with Bay Area POC chapter members.

So I’ve been working with our staff organizers to plan my (much scaled-down version) of the 50-state Presidential tour and started out West with the Bay Area chapter.

The chapter organized a meet-and-greet lunch in Oakland for POC (people of color) members. Nine people attended, some for their very first RG event, and some driving from over an hour away. After introductions, we had a conversation … Continue reading »

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How I Facilitated Conversations About Money with My Extended Family

How I Facilitated Conversations About Money with My Extended Family

By Margi, RG member

My Mini Praxis Group with Aunts and Uncles

I grew up in an owning-class family and didn’t know it. My parents chose to live their daily lives within the means of their salaries, but subtly used inherited wealth to assist with big expenses like my education and buying our home. I was probably eight when I asked my mom what ‘class’ we were and I remember she said upper-middle-class. I grew up in Alaska knowing I was fortunate, but thought that I wasn’t that different from my peers (most of whom are, in reality, middle-class).

I didn’t realize my family was rich until my final years of high school. I started to put it together when:

I realized how much more often my family traveled than my friends’ families (we travelled often both to see relatives scattered across the U.S. and to faraway countries); When I told my public school counsellor I was transferring to private boarding school on the other side of the country (she said the school sounded like a place her kids would like to go… then balked when she saw price tag and informed me that’s more than many pay for college… Continue reading »
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Personal (and Collective) Liberation Through Giving

Personal (and Collective) Liberation Through Giving

By Emily Bookstein
RG member and RG Portland chapter leader

What guidance would you give to a room full of fundraisers about how to ask you for money?

That was the question I tried to answer on a “#RealTalk with Major Donors” panel at the recent Allied Media Conference in Detroit. AMC is a conference led by people of color and queer and trans folks, a space for artists and organizers from marginalized communities to share their stories. By contrast, I’m a white cis woman from an upper-middle-class family. Because I’ve been involved with RG for four years, I’ve publicly shared my ‘money story’ many times over. But if I was going to speak on a panel at AMC, I was anxious to share my story in a way that would be useful.

Outside my childhood home with friends, I’m on the far right.

So, during the panel, I told the audience to remember that asking me for money is in service of my personal liberation — liberation from isolation and insecurity created by whiteness and class privilege.

I admit, in part I thought it might simply make folks feel better about asking donors like me for money. After all, … Continue reading »

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The Five Hindrances to Transforming as Young People With Wealth

The Five Hindrances to Transforming as Young People With Wealth

I just returned from a five-night silent meditation retreat at the stunning Vallecitos Retreat Center in northern New Mexico. I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for about seven years now and regularly attend silent meditation retreats to reground, center in my practice, and create dedicated space in my life for spiritual training and nourishment.

The retreat reaffirmed for me that the work of organizing young people with wealth for social justice is spiritual work and an extension of my spiritual practice. I don’t know any truer way to describe the work of reconnecting wealthy people with collective humanity and repairing the harm caused by wealth accumulation as anything but spiritual work.

So I want to bridge these worlds of mine and share some of the spiritual teachings I’ve learned and how they’re connected to our organizing. In the Vipassana/insight meditation tradition of the retreat I attended, there is a core teaching on the Five Hindrances [1], which can be understood as the major forces in the mind that hinder our ability to see clearly [2]. As I was listening to the teachings on the Five Hindrances I was struck by how much they resonate in my daily work, and how they … Continue reading »

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The Chronicles of a Young Brown Boy in NYC

The Chronicles of a Young Brown Boy in NYC

Pink Conway shopping bags filled with discounted clothes, my ammi and I walking back home to our Jamaica Avenue apartment, 90s NYC. Original flavor. This was before I became embarrassed about what was in those bags, this was before I even knew that other children had vastly different experiences from mine. Content, actually, happy in a way that only comes with the blissful ignorance of youth. This tiny brown boy who just came from Pakistan in 1994 did not yet have the vocabulary to articulate that his family was struggling.

My ammi worked in fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, and my abbu worked in the nearly extinct street-side newsstands (back when the cost of cigarettes were closer to 2 dollars than 20) and later worked in an Amoco gas station. Both worked full time. I was often left home alone or with whichever relative was available, VHS tapes of Hindi movies were both my guardians and friends.

To this day, I’ve never had my own room, I’ve always had to share with siblings, or cousins or parents. Privacy was an alien concept I only heard about from my white friends. And until recently, no one in my … Continue reading »

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