Some context: This is a letter I drafted to family members on my father’s side. Last year, I received an inheritance from this side of my family, after both my grandparents passed away.
The largest share of their estate was given out immediately, but a small part of the money is distributed through annual payments to each of us from investments that have grow rapidly over the past year, sparking this letter. I have talked with these family members broadly about my work, and our shared privilege, but this is my first direct ask to them to join me in giving.
I just received the check and the letter, thank you for handling all of these moving parts, Uncle! I knew the stock market had gone up, but still WOW!
I’m reminded of that first conversation we had about the estate, surrounded by boxes in Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment back in January 2019. Like in that moment, I am taken aback by the incredible privilege we have, solely based on the family we were born into (what I often refer to as “birth lottery”).
It can be hard to draw a direct line of how our family was able to grow this wealth, but there are a few historic events that our family benefited from: Grace and Wes [my grandfather’s parents] were homesteaders, and were given land that had been stolen from Native peoples. [My grandmother’s] family also received a land grant in North Carolina and became early investors in the segregated South. (Jim Crow is still very recent history!)
The quote I often come back to is:
“White people, no one is asking you to apologize for your ancestors. We are asking you to dismantle the systems they built and you maintain and benefit from”
The past year has enlightened many of us about what it means to have security: in our continued employment, secure housing, healthcare, and personal safety net. In fact, James and I ended up making and saving MORE in the past year, while so many were struggling to make ends meet.
With this annuity distribution, I have committed to giving back, redistributing funds that are in excess of our needs. We believe everyone should have a bigger safety net, and be able to thrive. For all of these reasons, we are making a gift of $5,000 to the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). As an umbrella organization led by and for people of color, I trust them to decide where it is most needed and can do the most good.
I’d be honored to have you match me with your own gift of $5,000 to M4BL.
If you’d prefer to give locally, Portland has the Black Resilience Fund, and Seattle has their own Black Lives Matter chapter. I’m also a huge fan of Social Justice Fund Northwest, who funds organizing across the PNW!
I’d be happy to keep this conversation going, either over email or over the phone. Especially if you have questions or other ideas to share.
Love and hugs,
I’m sharing this publicly not to shame, but to inspire others to take similar steps in inviting family to join them in wealth redistribution. This is just one piece of my larger plan to spend down and give almost all of my inheritance. If you have questions or comments on how to navigate these conversations in your own family, I’d be happy to talk. Shoot me a DM on instagram or comment below.
I’m optimistically awaiting a response, and will update and share as appropriate.
Parts of the letter were edited for clarity and removing some personal details.