What Would You Do with $44b?

Happy almost Eid. Eid is next week May 2 for many, although some celebrate on May 3 – check with your local Muslim communities to find out when they will celebrate.

Saturday, 30 April is the last day to order flowers from the Friendly Hmong Farms Mother’s day/may flower sale. This is a fundraiser for Seattle schools and Title 1 schools. Get your orders in now.

Image of instant cup noodle ramen with a lobster in it. Text “I wouldn’t tell anyone I won the lottery but there will be hints.” h/t B.N. for the image. I did not win the lottery, this isn’t a hint.

A friend posed this question after headlines that Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44-billion. Around the same time, I listened to a NY Times podcast, The Daily, talking about billionaires. Through the podcast, the reporter tried to make sense of how much a billion really is. Listening to the explanation I realized I can’t fathom that much net-worth sitting with one person. Props to Mona Chalabi for illustrating Jeff Bezos’ billions in wealth. I had that conversation with my kids tonight. At a certain point having more money doesn’t really make a difference – having 1 car or 100 cars – I can’t drive more than one at a time. More money can buy better tasting food, but my body can’t eat unlimited quantities of dessert and stay healthy.

So here is a hypothetical question, I’m assuming none of my readers has $44-billion in wealth. If you do have $44-billion, let’s talk – I’m super curious who you are (please email me) and how you found Fakequity, and more importantly, let’s put that $44-billion to work.

What would you do with $44-billion?

Here are some of my ideas to advance social justice, work to eliminate racism, and advance justice for Black, Indigenous, Latine/o/a, Middle Eastern, and Asians with that type of wealth. All of these are top of mind. I know philanthropy and racial justice work is very nuanced, but sometimes we just need to start with ideas and dream a little.

  • I’d give away $42 billion, and still be rich.
  • Fund research and healthy practices led by Black communities to end Black infant mortality. Same for Indigenous communities.
  • Support Native communities to install clean drinking water and sewer systems in EVERY Native community that needs or wants this.
  • Bring internet access to everyone. This isn’t just a rural problem, teachers in my urban neighborhood tell me they have students who still don’t have internet access for multiple reasons (e.g. cost, landlords saying no, no access in their building, etc.).
  • Fund independent POC owned and embedded journalism.
  • Buy or create a publishing house that prints only POC authored books. Then give those books away cause that is what $44-billion can do. I’d expect the publisher to authors and illustrators of color, POC authors with disabilities, POC LGBTQ, POC immigrants, etc. and invest in their development as professional writers and illustrators.
  • Fund POC led housing work led and embedded by POCs.
  • Fund POC farmers who farm in environmentally friendly ways.
  • Save and restore rainforests and return them to their Indigenous people. Fund Indigenous communities to preserve their land and Indigenous practices.
  • Fund organizations supporting POC candidates for races that are often overlooked – school boards, assessors, auditors, medical examiners, district attorneys, etc. Why these offices? They are often overlooked and these offices can be stepping stones to higher offices. These offices often influence important parts of systems reforms for POCs.
  • Seed a disability justice led foundation to make grants to advance disability justice for people of color. Hat-tip to Laura and Carrie for this idea – I hope you get a billion to start it.
  • Fund scholarships for students who are also front-line low-income workers. Much of private wealth is made on the backs of front-line low-income workers (e.g. grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, etc.). Also fund their childcare, medical, housing, etc. cost so a degree is attainable.
  • Fund Black and Indigenous led organizations working on prison and justice reforms. Why Black led– we need to acknowledge the racial imbalance of who is in prisons.
  • Work with municipal government, universities, researchers, etc. to implement across-the-board/mandatory child development awareness training – this is a long-time idea I’ve been marinating on. We need society to understand child development, including from a racial justice perspective. When we understand child, youth, and human development we can relate better to people. Imagine how different policing, schools, hospitals, etc. would feel like if we understood appropriate child and youth development. (If you do this please let me know how it goes, I’d love to learn about it.) 
  • Fund efforts around income tax and wealth taxes so it will be harder for people to accumulate so much wealth, thus redistributing it more fairly back into community accountable systems. While this may sound race neutral it isn’t. Tax justice is racial justice since it is often white people that accumulate wealth and taxes are a way to redistribute that wealth to Black and Brown people.
  • Fund efforts around universal basic income and restoring the child tax-credit, and other progressive tax efforts. Same as above, POCs benefit greatly with these efforts. The child tax credit helped to create a more level playing field for many children.

And just for fun, I’d buy myself the most expensive ring Costco has on their website, a $349,000 ring. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but something about ordering the most expensive ring from Costco sounds ridiculous. I wonder if I could convince Costco to throw in a $1.50 hot dog and soda, or a $5.00 rotisserie chicken too?

These are just some starter ideas on how to use $44-billion versus deciding one person wants to buy Twitter. These are all oversimplified and in jest, but with some serious edges to them. What ideas do you have? I’d love to know how you would invest funds to support racial justice.

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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.