Handout 3: Letter to My Dad
By Tyrone Boucher, from his website, Enough: The Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism. Used with permission.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my email!
I want to respond by bringing up stuff that is really timely right now in regards to my giving and my own relationship to wealth.
As I mentioned, I recently joined a donor circle called Gulf South Allied Funders. This move was really important to me, because GSAF is a group I’ve been inspired by since it began a little over a year ago. Beyond just the fact that I think a lot about the impact of Katrina and its obvious connection to racism—and want to help support social justice in the Gulf South however I can—GSAF uses a model of giving that I find really exciting and thoughtful.
Most of the money that GSAF helps channel doesn’t come from the personal giving of the nine original members of the group—it comes from fundraising within the communities that those folks have access to. This includes their families, friends, churches, etc. as well as the Resource Generation community—and also a few established donor networks that have been asked to match or double the funds that GSAF raises.
I think I agree with you that just giving the $400,000 or so that I have to a grassroots organization or activist-led regranting institution won’t catalyze a revolution. But there are a couple reasons why I still feel compelled to give a significant portion of what I have.
The first is what I described above—the way that my wealth and class privilege give me access to communities that have more resources than I do, and a certain amount of leverage in communicating with those communities. In teaming up with GSAF I become a part of a powerful donor network with connections, influence, and lots and lots of money.
The second reason I feel compelled to give is a more personal, spiritual urge. I’m incredibly inspired by the folks I’ve met who gave away their inherited wealth to support social justice. I find it particularly inspiring when this giving includes an analysis of the inherent power dynamics of philanthropy and an effort to redistribute power in a way that transfers decision-making ability about the money to the hands of people and communities who are on the front lines of social justice work. I have seen the way that this intentional letting go of power has been transformative for many of my friends.
Increasingly, I am supported and sustained by social justice work in a deep way—by the vision for a better world. When I give money, I intend to be really conscious about not doing it from a place of guilt, but doing it from a place of love and joy and the desire to align my actions with my spiritual and political beliefs.
Thank you again for having this ongoing dialogue with me—I’m really excited about it. And I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.