The Racist Roots of NonProfits and Philanthropy w Christina Shimizu


Manage episode 274973298 series 2772928
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Episode Summary

“Faulty.” “Problematic.” “Racist.” In this episode, we talk about why these terms are now regularly used to describe the foundations that the nonprofit and philanthropic systems were built upon. Guest Christina Shimizu, a co-founder of Community-Centric Fundraising, briefly explores the relatively recent history of how these systems came to be, why they are built on deep injustices and how philanthropy and nonprofits are actually a political and economic system.

Unpack all of this with us! If we don’t examine how these things came to be, we can never hope to reimagine them, improve them or do better, to benefit the communities we are trying to serve.

Episode Notes

So many concepts were mentioned! Here are some links...(and sign up for our mailing list for future updates):

  • Michelle talks with Christina Shimizu one of the co-founders of community centric fundraising and co-founder of Activist Class, a hyper-local political podcast. Christina organizes with Decriminalize Seattle and the Chinatown-International District Coalition (CID Coalition) and Decriminalize CID.
  • Christina is Director of Individual Giving at The Wing Luke Museum a gorgeous cultural gem (and museum,) documenting the Asian-American experience.
    • In this pod, the example of how 130 Chinese railroad workers built their own home comes from this history of building the museum is now housed.
  • You can get in touch with Christina via Twitter @chrissyshimizoo


  • Stifled Generosity is a great timeline by Justice Funders - its full title is “Stifled Generosity: How Philanthropy Has Fueled The Accumulation And Privatization of Wealth” - Christina refers to it outside of this episode!
  • Participatory Budgeting is a concept we didn’t cover but is so critical to the conversation - check out these national leaders:
  • Definition of Political Economy of Philanthropy: “A practice of philanthropy that is formalized and works hand in hand with the nonprofit industrial complex “
  • Definition of Nonprofit Industrial Complex: “The structure of how our nonprofits operate institutionally with philanthropy and with different private/public forms of funding to create the structure of what we call the nonprofit industrial complex”
  • Inquiry: What forms of colonial power turned into different economic policies, that then turned into different tax codes, that then turned into a whole system and structure that we experienced today? Understanding the root of it and how it evolved gives us a clearer understanding of what it is that is working, that isn’t working and how we can have some agency and power in moving forward so that it can work better for our communities.
  • Consider: Philanthropy and nonprofits as: a political system, an economic system, a culturally informed system.
  • Political analysis: Consider that a risk-reduction model that so many of our nonprofits proffer, is not furthering economic justice.
  • Consider: Systemic poverty cannot be solved by nonprofits that deal with harm reduction or trying to care for immediate and survival needs of people. If we are not focused on what our communities need in order to thrive…
  • Extractive Practices Created Wealth Accumulation: Many philanthropists accumulated money through utilization of extractive economies: extracting and exploiting labor, exploiting land, stealing land from indigenous peoples, genocide, kidnapping people from Africa, tearing famlilies apart, breaking up culture and exploiting them as enslaved people, exploitation of immigrant labor. <= These were listed by Christina in the mini-pod and you can also learn about this in Edgar Villanueva’s book Decolonizing Wealth
  • Redlining and exclusionary practices were used to withhold access to resources from communities of color
  • Modern Liberalism: Strong political support for economic regulation of the economy, opposition of tax cuts, expansion of public programs (therefore government takes greater role in healthcare, education, housing etc), extension of civil liberties
  • Neoliberalism: Political and economic philosophy that supports deregulation, privatization and tax cutting. No regulation on the capitalist economy, aka the “free market.” Privatization of things that are offered in the public sphere, like education, health care, telecommunications, and banks — and, that all of these should be operating in the competitive free market, not operated by government (government shrinks). Also support cutting taxes to hypothetically create incentives for businesses to invest in themselves and job creation. Neoliberalism is currently the dominant political and economic ideology of both Democrats and Republicans for over the last 40 years.
  • We did mention Willamette Valley Development Officers as a rad org we gave workshops at last week, and we also presented at Philanthropy Northwest!
  • Gratitude to Stephanie Ann Johnson and the Hidogs for letting us use their song “American Blues" throughout this episode!

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