In the grand tradition of year-end roundup listicles, I have compiled a list of Top 8 takeaways from 2018 about wealth inequality and organizing young wealthy people for social justice.
I hope these expand your analysis, piss you off, spur you to take action, and start some great conversations with wealthy family and friends about what more we can do to support poor and working class-led movements for racial and economic justice.
1. Billionaires are the leading cause of climate change. More than 70% of global emissions come from just 100 companies, and as this article points out, the logic of capitalism provides no incentive to prevent climate disaster. But we can pay for a Green New Deal.
2. Rich people are still barely giving anything away. Ultra-high-net-wealth U.S. households — defined as those with at least $500 million in assets — collectively gave just 1.2 percent of their assets, or $45 billion, to philanthropic causes in 2017. For those households to spend down half their wealth over twenty years, they would need to give more than 11 percent of their assets annually. If you haven’t already, this is a great opportunity to take the giving pledge and bump up that giving percentage. (also to be clear I disagree with the premise in the article that rich people giving so little money is somehow the fault of nonprofits for not asking for enough. Rich people need to give away more money, period.)
3. We must be wary of the perils of liberal philanthropy. In this article about the Ford Foundation’s approach to funding black freedom struggles, Karen Ferguson writes, “Dominant liberal philanthropies are engaging today’s black freedom struggle from a very different place than their grantees — not from a position of black liberation and radical struggle, but from one of pacification and liberal reform.” This piece pushed me to reflect on if/how my organizing and giving is rooted in liberation struggles or in reform, and I highly recommend you read it and let it challenge you too.
In case that list made you feel dispirited or cynical, I’ll end with:change is always possible. On a personal level, I’ve doubled my giving from last year, from moving $10K to $20K, which is 10% of my total assets.
4. There can be no economic justice without gender justice. Toxic masculinity and classism go hand-in-hand. Check out this recording of our webinar on class, toxic masculinity, and elite education to learn more.
5. Because we can’t say this enough: No one is ever “self-made.”
6. We must not let anti-Semitism divide our movements or confuse us about who really holds power and wealth in the U.S. and globally (white Christian men). White nationalists use anti-Semitism in conjunction with anti-Black racism to undermine powerful community organizing and as a community of young wealthy people we must be clear about the threat and build strong alliances to fight back. Check out this webinar to learn more.
7. Resentment towards young wealthy Millennials made it into pop culture. But as usual people were caught up in and distracted by flashy individual choices and there was little discussion about underlying structural problems and solutions. Send this around to your class-privileged and wealthy friends who want to use their privilege, not hide it, and help recruit more members to Resource Generation.
8. And because sometimes you just have to laugh/cry: Betsy Devos proves that rich people have no taste.
In case that list made you feel dispirited or cynical, I’ll end with: change is always possible. On a personal level, I’ve doubled my giving from last year, from moving $10K to $20K, which is 10% of my total assets. I’ve shared my story as a young person with wealth and talked about ending classism in public, from Lavender Graduation at UNC-Chapel Hill to the Facing Race conference to Netroots Nation. I was arrested for civil disobedience for the first time and felt the power of collective rage and dissent.
And I’m proud to not be alone in showing up for justice as a wealthy person: Resource Generation members this year have organized their parents to support immigrant justice, successfully fundraised for a housing organizer, posted bond for an immigrant detained by ICE, told their stories publicly, participated in cross-class giving projects, and much more. Help us continue to transform wealthy people, act in solidarity with poor and working-class movements, and be the most powerful organization possible to fight for racial and economic justice in 2019 by joining or renewing your membership today!
Resource Generation (RG) is the only organization in the U.S. organizing young people with access to wealth toward the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power.
As a result of becoming a member of Resource Generation, our members end up giving away 16-times more money to economic and racial justice organizations than they did before. Learn more and support our work by becoming a member here. If you need help figuring out your class background, check out our definition of wealth and/or fill out this intake form to have one our national organizers get in touch with you.