Abstract painting titled, “Ruler of the Earth” by Yuet Lam-Tsang. The piece features delicate and balanced strokes of light blue, yellow, teal, and purple. There appears to be a figure on their knees in the bottom right corner.

Editors’ note: This article is from Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine’s summer 2023 issue, “Movement Economies: Making Our Vision a Collective Reality.”

How do social movements come to make the language of economic systems change their own? Building a more just and democratic economic system requires that people understand the problems of the current economic structure, propose democratic alternatives, and organize to make those ideas a reality. As has been noted by NPQ, “The struggle for a solidarity economy is a practical one, and there is no path forward without social movement.”1  

In short, we need “movement economies”—that is, democratic economic structures that social movements understand to be in their interests and worth fighting for. 

Conversations about economic justice often offer frameworks for pursuing the democratic allocation of resources in a participatory manner, such as the idea of a solidarity economy.2  Theory—the what—is important; but the ways in which such frameworks connect with the larger social forces that drive them—the how and the who—are necessary to achieve those gains.

Can this movement energy coalesce into a cohesive vision? We think it can. But doing so will require both naming our current economic problems and connecting theory to practice.

We know there’s a deep hunger in movements for an economy that people collectively own and democratically manage. Increasingly, the old stories of a happy capitalist economy simply do not hold water, particularly with younger people, many of whom are saddled with student debt and see diminished economic prospects. As Belén Marco and Tori Kuper of the New Economy Coalition recently noted, “Disillusionment with capitalism is so ubiquitous it’s trending on TikTok.”3 And there is a virtual cottage industry of books coming out that critique capitalism and the core social myths that uphold our current economy.4

We see, too, movement energy in the organizing at Amazon, at the over 200 Starbucks branches that have unionized, in the new vigor behind the pursuit of worker cooperatives and community land trusts.5 But we would not be writing about movement economies if there were not still a large gap between social movements and efforts to develop a solidarity economy.

Can this movement energy coalesce into a cohesive vision? We think it can. But doing so will require both naming our current economic problems and connecting theory to practice.

Understanding the Economic Context: The Income and Wealth Shift

It is well known that over the past few decades, the rise of neoliberalism has turbocharged economic inequality. It has done this by damaging unions, reducing social regulation, and encouraging corporate maximization of wealth for shareholders.Capitalism, by its nature, concentrates income and wealth among those who own capital7 —or, as Dr. Ayodele Nzinga has accurately noted, “hoard resources.”8 Indeed, if one looks at the US economic picture of the past half-century, it is obvious that inequality has increased with extraordinary speed, with more and more income concentrated at the top. According to two Economic Policy Institute researchers, in 1979, the top 1 percent of wage earners received 7.3 percent of income, compared to 13.2 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of wage earners saw their share fall from 69.8 percent to 60.9 percent—a nearly nine-percentage-point decline in earnings.9  

In terms of wealth, the data are even more dramatic. At the end of 2021, the top 1 percent of Americans held 32.2 percent of total wealth. The bottom 90 percent of Americans, by contrast, held 30.5 percent of total wealth, according to Federal Reserve figures. In other words, by the end of 2021, the top 1 percent of Americans held more wealth than that held by the bottom 90 percent of the population in total.10

The Fed’s data series goes back to the third quarter of 1989. Back then, the top 1 percent held 22.5 percent of all wealth, while the bottom 90 percent of Americans held 40 percent of all wealth. The nine-and-a-half-percentage-point decline in the share of wealth for ordinary Americans (that is, those in the bottom 90 percent) is remarkable. If you run the numbers, of total US wealth of over $142 trillion, that works out to $45,000 less per person for nearly 300 million Americans than if their share of wealth had stayed the same.11

Nor are the economic data any more encouraging when one measures inequality by race. As the New York Times’ David Leonhardt has written, the Black–White ratio of wages as of 2014 was about where it was in 1950.12 Meanwhile, in terms of the racial wealth gap, a 2017 report authored by researchers at Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies found that median Black wealth would fall below zero shortly after mid- century, with Latinx wealth to follow by 2073, if current trendlines are not altered.13

A few years ago, drawing on the research of William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, NPQ analyzed why the racial wage gap has persisted—and how initial gains were reversed.14 The story involves many different economic and political factors. Part of the explanation on the economic side was a shift in how corporations were organized. In addition to the broader policy and ideological shifts that neoliberalism wrought, Lazonick and his colleagues point out more specifically that one of the most effective civil rights remedies of the 1960s involved getting corporations to open access for Black Americans to well-paying, long- lasting, blue-collar union jobs. In short, back then there was a sizable sector of corporate America where employment stability prevailed—if you could get in, you stayed in—but when these “lifetime employment” opportunities disappeared in the 1980s, the racial wage gap widened again.15

Today’s economy places a premium on being able to access social networks to jump from job to job, which reinforces existing privilege, because the very definition of social networks in the job market depends on having connections in high places. Not only have federal policies—such as reduced civil rights enforcement beginning in the early 1980s16 and the rise of a mass incarceration regime that continues to incarcerate Blacks at “roughly five times the rate of White Americans”17 —directly harmed Black Americans, but the very structure of the economy (namely, one marked by frequent job changes and increasingly insecure employment) also makes civil rights enforcement strategies less effective. After all, if one has been unfairly terminated from a job, being reinstated due to a successful civil rights claim, while certainly still of value, is less valuable if the person, after being reinstated in the job, is likely to have to find another job within a few years. This was not so often the case in the 1960s, when civil rights laws were passed and long-term employment, at least in unionized sectors, was the norm; it is the case today.

The Politics of Movements

How have movements responded to the causes and effects of skyrocketing inequality?

It is important to recognize that movements operate in the context of a system that, at its roots, is racial capitalism, as scholar and activist Cedric Robinson highlighted in his 1983 book Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition.18 And they are influenced by that context, even when they are building democratic alternatives and/or are engaged in resistance strategies; for instance, because of its racial roots, capitalism has served to weaken the bonds between Black workers and White workers, which has been an important factor in retarding union organizing.19 While the need to employ an intersectional lens in movement work is widely acknowledged at a theoretical level,20 actual movement activity often falls into narrower silos.

The truth that different oppressions influence one another does not always get recognized in the context of social movement work. Until quite recently, many economic justice movement organizations were “race neutral” in their approach. This was seen as a politically smart means to avert White backlash. A 1996 political science journal article, for example, argued that policies were most likely to be effective in addressing race and economic inequality if they were targeted to benefit Black Americans but “advanced and defended on universalistic grounds.”21 In other words, until quite recently, it was considered politically smart for economic justice groups to avoid talking about race. Scott Reed, longtime director of PICO National Network (now Faith in Action), noted, before retiring in 2018, that only in his last decade was there a shift to what he called a “race-conscious” approach. Previously, he said, “for much of the field of community organizing, there was a lot more race neutrality.”22

Yet as racial justice movement leader Dedrick Asante-Muhammad has detailed, a race-neutral or “race-blind approach to addressing racial economic inequality has left the nation hobbled in public policy efforts to undo ongoing structural racism.”23 William Gale, codirector of the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center, concurs.24

Reed notes that from a movement perspective, his group, in the wake of the rise of Black Lives Matter, had come to adopt this same point of view, one that recognized that race neutrality is a “false narrative.”25 As a result, “We have become much more thoughtful of moving race and power into our organizing efforts.”26

Even so, Isabelle Moses, Faith in Action’s chief of staff, explained that, after Reed left, it required “a comprehensive effort to transform the culture of the national staff team through self-examination around race and gender” that lasted more than three years. The effort resulted in a shift from a White-led nonprofit to an organization that reflects the majority people of color communities that it serves—not just in terms of staffing and leadership but also in terms of overall movement practice. “It’s about considering every day how to design an organization for liberation and not oppression,” Moses noted.27

One can also find many examples of racial justice groups that have failed to fully include class inequality and capitalism in their analysis. Referencing pledges of up to $200 billion from philanthropy and corporations to invest in racial justice after the 2020 uprisings, Francisco Pérez, codirector of the Center for Popular Economics, observes that such commitments typically “take Black capitalism as their operating theory—that is, they assume that the path to racial equality is paved with Black business success. If racism has left Black Americans with less capital than White Americans, then the solution is to help Black Americans eventually own businesses as large and profitable as those of White Americans.”28

Yet an approach that prioritizes “Black faces in high places,” Pérez insists, is insufficient. “Are poverty wages less miserable because your boss is Black? Is substandard housing less dangerous because your landlord is Black? Are monopoly prices any more affordable because the company is Black owned?” Pérez asks rhetorically. “Liberation,” Pérez concludes, “will only come if we are expansive enough in our vision to address inequality in all its forms.”29

History has shown that this important work of intersectional organizing is both the most challenging and the most rewarding. Leaders from Bargaining for the Common Good explain that the idea of intersectionality is rooted in the struggle of Black feminist workers, who fought against layoffs that were rooted in racist and sexist policies and practices. Intersectionality helps us understand the “interconnectedness of different unjust and exploitative systems” and build movements that are more inclusive, engaged, and democratic.30

In a recent article, renowned labor historian Robin D. G. Kelley writes that the movements of the 20th century show that not choosing between racial or economic justice is the right path to liberation: “Black Communists taught me that we need not choose between anti-racism and class solidarity; they are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually constitutive. The same holds true for the fights against all forms of oppression: sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism.”31

This era of complex economic justice struggles has made it challenging to advance social transformation, even as movements for community ownership and a solidarity economy gain ground.

A Nonprofit Double Bind

This era of complex economic justice struggles has made it challenging to advance social transformation, even as movements for community ownership and a solidarity economy gain ground. The nonprofit sector itself has, in some respects, become an important obstacle to change. As conditions worsen, the size and scope of the nonprofit sector have grown—employing more of the workforce, increasing revenue, and contributing more to gross domestic product.32 But the reasons for this growth are not straightforward and speak to the contradictory situation in which the sector finds itself today. Nonprofits often play quasi-governmental roles.33 In so doing, they often serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, inequality. As Claire Dunning writes, “In Boston, the city’s most economically and socially distressed neighborhoods in the twenty-first century are also those with the most neighborhood nonprofits.”34

It is worth noting that the central role that nonprofits have come to play in social movement organizing is rather odd. Movements were not always organized this way, and this shift of movements from the self-financing movements of the past (such as labor unions in the 1930s) to the grant-dependent movement organizations of the present creates significant challenges for achieving transformative change. As movement lawyer and activist Dean Spade has noted, nonprofitization is “understood to be a response to the revolutionary movements of the mid-20th century.”35 In other words, it is no accident that movement energy has often been channeled into nonprofits—this was an explicit elite strategy of control, and a rather effective one at that.

To understand the current issues in the nonprofit sector at hand, we can turn to the history of social infrastructure in the United States. The decline of social institutions is an important context to understanding why and how the nonprofit sector has become such a central fixture today.

The federal government and its welfare state programs—often known as the New Deal, and including federal programs and reforms such as Social Security and the Works Progress Administration, were forged in the world-historical political events of the first half of the 20th century and the rise of a powerful labor movement. The unions that emerged during this time were the major institutions that shaped the struggle for economic equality by pressuring corporations and the government for better wages and social welfare.

Over the second half of the 20th century, the labor movement suffered a targeted political defeat. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in the 1950s and 1960s, more than 1 percent of workers participated in a union election each year. In the 1970s, that number fell to 0.78 percent. In the 1980s, it fell to 0.29 percent. Studies show that in the 1970s, employers began to deploy a series of tactics—such as firing union activists, breaking strikes, and subjecting workers to mandatory “captive audience” anti-union meetings—to discourage union membership. Conservative politicians and business lobbyists wielded labor law to suppress union activity, such as making boycotts and solidarity strikes illegal. The comprehensive impact of these forces made workers more vulnerable than ever to the whim of employers. After the 1970s, inequality skyrocketed, the racial wealth gap widened, and union membership continued to dwindle.36

The nonprofit sector grew in this vacuum, filling the gaps where the federal government did not make provision. In fact, sources show that the growth of nonprofits was inversely proportional to the decline of private sector unions: while unions declined more than 80 percent, the nonprofit sector far outpaced overall economic growth.37 The sector currently employs more than 10 percent of the workforce and generates more than $2 trillion in revenue. But its flourishing has not resulted in mitigation of wealth inequality, defeat of structural racism, improvement in quality of life, or an increase in the quality or scope of federal social program supports.

Essentially, nonprofits have often served as patches on the political and economic system—and this has often been highly functional for neoliberalism. “The basic assumption behind this,” as was noted in NPQ in 2018, “is that the system, despite major problems here and there, is more or less functional, and our role is to come up with clever solutions—be good social entrepreneurs . . . plug the holes and fill in the gaps.”38 But it is becoming ever more apparent that this is neither an accurate nor effective approach.

The nonprofit sector, in short, is caught in a double bind. Many nonprofits seek to work against the forces of harm and oppression that make life difficult for everyday people—but they also depend on neoliberalism to keep going. Yet, there is good news, too. Within the nonprofits that aim to tackle the effects of inequality—the housing crisis, the racial wealth gap, climate change—exist many workers who are dedicated to transformative change. These workers can fight for liberation both by organizing in unions to improve equity within their own organizations and by linking with other workers in the sector.

Even as this movement-building work continues, it’s worth remembering, too, that movements must build ecosystems to succeed. Not everyone can or should play the same role. Author and impact investing leader Deborah Frieze (with Meg Wheatley), for instance, has created a typology of critical roles that she sees as central to social transformation.39 One is the “hospice worker”—many who are employed in human service nonprofits and help people survive the ravages of capitalism (such as by operating food banks) work in this lane. A second role is “protector”—that is, folks in positions of power who shield those who advance transformative change; this might be a productive role that supporters in philanthropy could play. A third role is “illuminators”—people who tell stories about the emergent system that is seeking to be created. A fourth role is “trailblazers”—the activists who are leading unions and solidarity economy institutions and who are fighting directly for liberation. This fourth role tends to be the one given the most consideration, but as Frieze highlights, trailblazers are just one part—if indeed, a critical part—of an integral whole.

Moving Toward Liberation

Changing the present dynamic is challenging. Nonprofits depend on government and philanthropic funding to serve communities, meaning that their work is tied to the agenda of those funders. But there are strategies, both within and outside the sector, that can help break this logjam. For instance, former Common Future CEO Rodney Foxworth has advocated for movement funding to become community controlled. If nonprofit and community organizations were able to restore the self-financing that was once the norm for social movements, they could begin to do the work of moving society away from its extractive and exploitative practices.40  

In a similar vein, Freelancer Union founder Sara Horowitz has called for a return to “mutualism”: a political and economic system that builds solidarity among people within their community.41 Mutualism harnesses the human tendency to collaborate, share, and construct institutions that last. Reclaiming this economic capacity for the movement ecosystem would mean changing both attitudes and practices within and beyond organizations. It would also mean, critically, restoring a larger element of self-financing to movement work. As Horowitz writes, “Mutualist organizations…plan for the future by investing in themselves. They do this by recycling excess capital generated by their economic mechanism back into the organization.”42  

To reorient the sector toward justice, activists also need to organize nonprofits from within to pursue the social justice missions that are supposed to motivate their work. Instead of modeling themselves after short-term and top-down models, what movements require are reciprocal and democratic organizations that can sustain long- term institutions for the public good.

Here, nonprofit unions can also play a catalytic role. Efforts to organize workers into unions within the sector have been on the rise—including among universities, museums, and community advocacy groups. Nonprofit unions, when oriented toward liberation, can help their worker–members make their organizations more equitable, effective, and democratic—not only by improving wages and benefits but also, crucially, by facilitating a far more equitable internal organizational distribution of decision-making power.

Of course, such efforts have faced and will continue to face resistance. For example, earlier this year, 44 human service providers in Chicago signed onto a letter to push back against legislation that would make it easier for workers at nonprofits with city contracts to unionize.43 Former and current presidents of the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union, Katie Barrows and Hayley Brown, write, “Like other bosses, bosses at progressive nonprofits can be reluctant to give up power, and unions redistribute workplace power to the workers. But organizations flounder when those in charge prioritize preserving their own power within the organization over fulfilling the organization’s mission.”44  

It isn’t enough that we affirm the idea that movements for social justice are connected—movements must envision a different economy altogether, and organize to put it into place. So, what comes next? What does a more democratic economy look, taste, and feel like?

Another approach—and one that can also face resistance—is what is known as the worker self-directed nonprofit, which applies management strategies in the worker co-op sector to nonprofits. In this alternative, as employed by such nonprofit organizations as the Sustainable Economy Law Center and others, a collective management structure is used to spread decision-making authority among workers throughout the organization.45

There are additional steps as well that movements can and must take beyond the nonprofit sector. For instance, the Carolina Federation, a North Carolina 501(c)(4) advocacy group, centers its political and economic power- building work in nine DNA principles, specifying the core values that guide their work—including solidarity, the need for structural economic change, and a commitment to developing leaders and repairing harm.46 Education in community economics is also key. In the Bronx, co-op organizers have partnered with public school teachers to develop a curriculum where high school students “learn by doing.”47 As Harold McDougall, author of Black Baltimore, has put it, advancing liberation requires building “a cooperative economic, political, and social system that grows out of the community itself.”48 In a thriving community, this civic infrastructure acts as a kind of “shadow government.”49 There are many examples of this. The Black Panther Party offers a prominent US historical example of creating a parallel community-based power structure. As co-op author and scholar Jessica Gordon Nembhard and her daughter Susan Nembhard have written, “The Panthers engaged in community organizing to manage and provide myriad services to their communities. Notable successes include distribution of free shoes, clothing, healthcare, and food that was often produced through cooperatives and collective activity….Solidarity and cooperative economic activity allowed them to walk their talk and provide viable alternatives.”50

The Road Ahead

It isn’t enough that we affirm the idea that movements for social justice are connected—movements must envision a different economy altogether, and organize to put it into place. So, what comes next? What does a more democratic economy look, taste, and feel like?

Emily Kawano of the US Solidarity Economy Network has noted that the core values of a solidarity economy are: “solidarity”; “participatory democracy”; “equity in all dimensions—race, class, gender, abilities, etc.”; “sustainability”; and “pluralism.”51 As Kawano observes, this is a “big tent.”52 Indeed, it is. Kawano offers an explicitly post-capitalist vision, one that we support. But the same principles can—and do—also motivate more reform-minded movement advocates, such as activist-scholars Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor.53

Vision is one piece of the puzzle. A second piece is to identify and critique common economic practices—such as the cost-shifting practices of private equity or the extractive practices of nominally nonprofit universities—that undermine solidarity economic principles.54 Yet another is to center broad-based ownership in the work and, in particular, to implement strategies that shift ownership of the means of economic production and resource allocation from the wealthiest 1 percent to the broad majority; participatory processes regarding investment and planning (such as participatory budgeting) are also critical in this regard. And we must celebrate victories when they occur—be it the formation of a new co-op enterprise or advances of worker rights through unionization and union–community coalitions.

As NPQ’s Cyndi Suarez has pointed out, moving forward does not require agreement on everything or even most things. Indeed, she labels the assumption that agreement is always the preferred condition the “fetish of agreement,” and observes that an insistence on agreement on everything often paralyzes movements.55 We would contend that agreement on direction and a willingness of movement actors to work through difference is what the idea of movement economies is all about.

The good news is that we are currently living through a moment where everyday people and movement activists are taking this charge of seeking structural change seriously. New approaches to resisting exploitation and organizing the economy differently are not just abstract ideas, and many current efforts to realize what’s possible are built on the premise that struggles are connected through solidarity and a respect for multiplicity. Black Lives Matter activists traveled to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 2016 to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, joining demonstrations there and organizing others across the country to link Black and Indigenous struggles against common oppressors. The Debt Collective, at the forefront of the ongoing push to cancel the $1.757 trillion (as of December 31, 2022) held in student debt by over 43.8 million borrowers in this country, also builds their movement on the vision of a world entirely without debt—one with not just free college but also universal healthcare, affordable housing, and without prisons.56 And the Amazon Labor Union—which grew, independently, from energy coming from the ground up at the JFK8 Amazon Fulfillment Center—successfully organized the first union at the tech giant in 2022, on the premise that the majority non-White workforce needed a new approach that centered the experiences of working-class people of color.57

As Stephen Lerner, Sarita Gupta, and Joseph McCartin wrote in the Boston Review a few years ago, the worker movement is a cause for hope: “The left is alive with creative energy not seen in many decades.”58 Since then, interest in unions has continued to soar, with labor organizing advancing in crucial sectors such as media, service work, and in industry.59 Increasingly, the public is questioning whether capitalism works, and coming up empty. Struggles today are beginning to foreground intersectionality in explicit ways, but this is still a work in progress. As Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, has noted, many still “battle inequity and oppression inside our movements.”60  

In 2020, polls showed that somewhere between 15 and 26 million people had participated in the demonstrations against police brutality after the murder of George Floyd, making the protests the largest in the history of the United States.61 But the question remains whether this newfound energy is strong enough to concretely realize the world for which millions of people are fighting. In the early 2010s, movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter sharply articulated the state of economic inequality, financialization, state repression, and structural racism in US political reality. The effects of these influential movements are widespread, inspiring organizing that led to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign;62 renewed attention to democracy within major industrial unions;63 real efforts to reduce police budgets in some cities;64 demands for student debt cancellation;65 the youth-led movement to combat climate change;66 and more.

That’s the good news. The less good news: there are still deep flaws. Writing about Occupy in 2021 at the movement’s tenth anniversary, Occupy Wall Street activists Cheyenna Layne Weber and Ali Issa have acknowledged this. As they pointed out, “The camp replicated the same forms of oppression and violence that existed—and continue to exist—in our dominant US culture. Most of the Occupiers were White, and the movement often alienated communities of color.”67 There has been progress since, but some of the dynamics that Weber and Issa identify in terms of incomplete movement structure and difficulties in bridging across race and difference persist.68  

The dynamics of racial justice organizing are very different, but the movement has its own challenges, one of which is its dependence on philanthropic funding. Shortly after the murder of George Floyd, Will Cordery, a nationally prominent philanthropic advisor and consultant, pointedly reminded philanthropy that racial justice funding increased sharply in 2014, after the uprising in Ferguson, only to recede just two years later after the 2016 elections. Cordery warned philanthropy not to repeat this pattern, yet signs of slippage were apparent as early as fall 2021.69

The task, in short, is to build the infrastructure, institutions, and movement connectivity needed to foster structural change. This, as we have observed, is not easy. As Mitchell notes, movements must overcome their internal incoherence and prioritize base-building, shared power analysis, collective visioning on grounded solutions, and democratic and strategic organizations to succeed. “We are closer than we think to such a reality,” he writes, but “[w]e must go through a humbling but necessary period of change to achieve it.”70

Bringing the question of movement economies to the fore not only helps shed light on the challenges in achieving structural economic change but also elevates the people who are making those changes in real time. The time to inquire into how movements can more effectively integrate economic justice into their social transformation work is now. After all, the goal is not simply to develop ideas but to enact them.


  1. Steve Dubb and Emily Kawano, “Beyond Capitalism: Owning Our Economy, Owning Our Future,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, no. 2 (Summer 2022): 8–15.
  2. See Emily Kawano and Julie Matthaei, “System Change: A Basic Primer to the Solidarity Economy,” NPQ, July 8, 2020, nonprofitquarterly.org/system-change-a-basic-primer-to-the-solidarity-economy.
  3. Belén Marco and Tori Kuper, “Co-ops and Solidarity: Reflections from Barcelona,” NPQ, March 7, 2023, nonprofitquarterly.org/co-ops-and-solidarity-reflections-from-barcelona/.
  4. See, for example, Kevin Musgrave, Persons of the Market: Conservativism, Corporate Personhood, and Economic Theology (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2022); Alissa Quart, Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream (New York: HarperCollins, 2023); Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market (New York: Bloomsbury, 2023); and Bernie Sanders with John Nichols, It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism (New York: Crown, 2023).
  5. Karen Weise and Noam Scheiber, “Amazon Workers on Staten Island Vote to Unionize in Landmark Win for Labor,” New York Times, April 1, 2022, www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/technology/amazon-union-staten-island.html; Tori Bedford, “Two Starbucks stores in Boston area unanimously secure union wins, the first in Massachusetts,” GBH, April 11, 2022, www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/04/11/two-starbucks-stores-in-boston-area-unanimously-secure-union-wins-the-first-in-massachusetts; Courtney Berner, “Where Are New Co-ops Emerging? The Changing Map of Co-op Development,” NPQ, January 19, 2022, nonprofitquarterly.org/where-are-new-co-ops-emerging-the-changing-map-of-co-op-development/; and Michael Friedrich, “Affordable Housing Forever,” New York Times, April 15, 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/04/15/opinion/affordable-housing-land-trusts.html.
  6. Steve Dubb, “After the Next Recession: The Search for an Economic Path Forward,” NPQ, February 19, 2020, nonprofitquarterly.org/after-the-next-recession-the-search-for-an-economic-path-forward/.
  7. Steve Dubb, “In Capital and Ideology, Piketty Reminds Us to Follow the Money,” NPQ, November 10, 2021, nonprofitquarterly.org/in-capital-and-ideology-piketty-reminds-us-to-follow-the-money.
  8. Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, “Gumbo for the Struggle: Recipes of Liberation from the Cultural Kitchen,” NPQ, March 1, 2023, nonprofitquarterly.org/gumbo-for-the-struggle-recipes-of-liberation-from-the-cultural-kitchen.
  9. Lawrence Mishel and Jori Kandra, “Wages for the top 1% skyrocketed 160% since 1979 while the share of wages for the bottom 90% shrunk,” Working Economics Blog, Economic Policy Institute, December 1, 2020, www.epi.org/blog/wages-for-the-top-1-skyrocketed-160-since-1979-while-the-share-of-wages-for-the-bottom-90-shrunk- time-to-remake-wage-pattern-with-economic-policies-that-generate-robust-wage-growth-for-vast-majority.
  10. Robert Frank, “Soaring markets helped the richest 1% gain $6.5 trillion in wealth last year, according to the Fed,” CNBC, April 1, 2022, cnbc.com/2022/04/01/richest-one-percent-gained-trillions-in-wealth-2021.html; and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, “Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989,” accessed May 3, 2023, www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/dataviz/dfa/distribute/chart/#range:2006.4,2021.4;
    Note that the Federal Reserve numbers have been adjusted slightly, since Frank wrote his article using the Fed’s initial projections. Under the adjusted numbers, the top 1 percent had an even greater wealth of $46.43 trillion of a larger total of $144 trillion (32.2 percent), while the bottom 90 percent had a slightly higher share of 30.5 percent. The basic analysis of the wealth shift over time, however, is largely the same.
  11. Ibid. How does one come up with the per person figure? If you take 9.5 percent of $142 trillion, that’s $13.49 trillion. The population of the United States is approximately 331.9 million people; the bottom 90 percent of that population is approximately 298.71 million people. If you divide $13.49 trillion by 298.71 million people, you end up with a per capita figure of $45,160, which we’ve rounded down to $45,000.
  12. David Leonhardt, “The Black-White Wage Gap Is as Big as It Was in 1950,” New York Times, June 25, 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/opinion/sunday/race-wage-gap.html.
  13. Steve Dubb, “Report Finds U.S. Racial Wealth Gap Still Growing at an Alarming Pace,” NPQ, September 15, 2017, nonprofitquarterly.org/report-finds-u-s-racial-wealth-gap-still-growing-alarming-pace. See also Chuck Collins et al., The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class (Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now, 2017).
  14. Steve Dubb, “A Most Dangerous Intersection: Revisiting Race and Class in 2020,” NPQ, August 12, 2020, nonprofitquarterly.org/a-most-dangerous-intersection-revisiting-race-and-class-in-2020/.Ibid. See also William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, “How the Disappearance of Unionized Jobs Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class” (Working Paper No. 125, Institute for New Economic Thinking, New York, June 15, 2020).William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, “Equality Denied: Tech and African Americans” (Working Paper No. 177, Institute for New Economic Thinking, New York, February 18, 2022, 73–74).
  15. Ibid. See also William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, “How the Disappearance of Unionized Jobs Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class” (Working Paper No. 125, Institute for New Economic Thinking, New York, June 15, 2020).
  16. William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, “Equality Denied: Tech and African Americans” (Working Paper 177, Institute for New Economic Thinking, New York, February 18, 2022, 73–74).
  17. Ashley Nellis, The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons Sentencing Project, 2021).
  18. Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, 3rd ed. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2021; original work published 1983).
  19. Megan Ming Francis and Michael C. Dawson, “Race, Capitalism, and Conflict Then and Now,” Items (blog), Social Science Research Council, October 3, 2017, items.ssrc.org/reading-racial-conflict/race-capitalism-and-conflict-then-and-now.
  20. Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (July 1991): 1241–99.
  21. Paul M. Sniderman et al., “Beyond Race: Social Justice as a Race Neutral Ideal,” American Journal of Political Science 40, no. 1 (February 1996): 33–55.
  22. Steve Dubb, “National Network Leader Looks Back on 40 Years of Community Organizing,” NPQ, May 2, 2018, nonprofitquarterly.org/national-network-leader-looks-back-40-years-community-organizing.
  23. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, “Goodbye ‘Race Neutrality’—The Case for Race-Conscious Economic Policy,” NPQ, January 26, 2022, nonprofitquarterly.org/goodbye-race-neutrality-the-case-for-race-conscious-economic-policy.
  24. William G. Gale, Reflections on What Makes a Policy Racist (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, November 4, 2021).
  25. Dubb, “National Network Leader Looks Back.”
  26. Ibid.
  27. Isabelle Moses, “A Journey from White Space to Pro-Black Space,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, 1 (Spring 2022): 64–70.
  28. Francisco Pérez, “How Do We Build Black Wealth? Understanding the Limits of Black Capitalism,” NPQ, April 27, 2022, org/how-do-we-build-black-wealth-understanding-the-limits-of-black-capitalism.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Stacy Davis Gates et , “Critical Race Feminism and Common Good Unionism,” NPQ, September 28, 2022, nonprofitquarterly.org/critical-race-feminism-and-common-good-unionism/. For more background on intersectionality, see Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989, no. 1.
  31. Robin G. Kelley, “Why We Are Called Hammer & Hope,” Hammer & Hope 1 (Winter 2023), hammerandhope.org/article/issue-1-article-4.
  32. Steve Dubb, “The Economy Is Changing—and So Must We,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 25, 2 (Summer 2018): 9–19.
  33. Paul Nelson, “Why the City–Nonprofit Relationship Must Change: Lessons from COVID-19,” NPQ, May 13, 2020, org/why-the-city-nonprofit-relationship-must-change-lessons-from-covid-19/.
  34. Claire Dunning, Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022), 250, as quoted by Cyndi Suarez, “Nonprofits as Battlegrounds for Democracy,” NPQ, March 20, 2023, org/nonprofits-as-battlegrounds-for-democracy/.
  35. Steve Dubb, “Nonprofits and Movements: How Do the Two Relate?,” NPQ, March 29, 2023, org/nonprofits-and-movements-how-do-the-two-relate/.
  36. Lawrence Mishel, Lynn Rhinehart, and Lane Windham, Explaining the erosion of private-sector unions (Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, November 18, 2020), epi.org/unequalpower/publications/private-sector-unions-corporate-legal-erosion/.
  37. Dubb, “The Economy is ”
  38. Ibid.
  39. Lisa Reynolds, “The Leadership Collaborative: Offering a Way Forward,” Loretto Community, September 1, 2019, lorettocommunity.org/the-leadership-collaborative-offering-a-way-forward.
  40. Rodney Foxworth, “Building Community Institutions of Our Own,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, 2 (Summer 2022): 90–97.
  41. Steve Dubb, Rithika Ramamurthy, and Sara Horowitz, “Reclaiming Our History of Mutualism: A Conversation with Steve Dubb, Rithika Ramamurthy, and Sara Horowitz,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, no. 2 (Summer 2022): 98–107.
  42. Sara Horowitz, “The Mutualist Ethic: Planting the Saplings for the Tree of Mutualism,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, no. 2 (Summer 2022): 108–110.
  43. D. Quig, “Pro-union ordinance aimed at Chicago nonprofits draws rebukes, including from the Archdiocese,” Chicago Tribune, February 8, 2023, www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-human-service-workforce-ordinance-chicago-cupich-20230208-4scnugvljng57irdqitf6ghgmy-story.html.
  44. Hayley Brown and Katie Barrows, “Nonprofits Need Unions, Too,” The Progressive, July 25, 2022, org/op-eds/nonprofits-need-unions-too-barrows-brown-220725.
  45. For an example of how worker self-management works in practice, see Tia Katrina Taruc-Meyers, “How Our Nonprofit Got a 40-Week Paid Parental Leave Policy,” NPQ, March 9, 2022, org/how-our-nonprofit-got-a-40-week-paid-parental-leave-policy.
  46. Steve Dubb, “Carolina Rising: Base-Building Lessons from North Carolina,” NPQ, December 8, 2020, org/carolina-rising-base-building-lessons-from-north-carolina.
  47. Evan Casper-Futterman, “Teaching Cooperative Intelligence, for a Solidarity Economy,” NPQ, April 12, 2023, org/teaching-cooperative-intelligence-for-a-solidarity-economy/.
  48. Steve Dubb, “What Does Community Development for Liberation Look Like?,” NPQ, April 27, 2022, org/what-does-community-development-for-liberation-look-like/.
  49. Ibid.
  50. Jessica Gordon Nembhard and Susan Nembhard, “The Black Cooperative Economy,” Strange Matters 1 (Summer 2022).
  51. Emily Kawano, “Imaginal Cells of the Solidarity Economy,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 28, 2 (Summer 2021): 48–55.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor, Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2021).
  54. Dana Brown, “How Private Equity Is Swallowing Up Health Care—And What to Do About It,” NPQ, April 19, 2023, org/how-private-equity-is-swallowing-up-health-care-and-what-to-do- about-it; and Davarian Baldwin, “Universities and Cities: Why We Must End the Nonprofit Path to Wealth Hoarding,” NPQ, December 22, 2021, nonprofitquarterly.org/universities-and-cities-why-we-must-end-the-nonprofit-path-to-wealth-hoarding. See also (in this edition) Davarian L. Baldwin, “‘Educational Purposes’: Nonprofit Land as a Vital Site of Struggle,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 30, no. 2 (Summer 2023): 22–33.
  55. Cyndi Suarez, “The Fetish of Agreement,” NPQ, March 19, 2019, org/the-fetish-of-agreement.
  56. Melanie Hanson, “Student Loan Debt Statistics,” Education Data Initiative, April 1, 2023, org/student-loan-debt-statistics.
  57. Leah Donnella, “The Standing Rock Resistance Is Unprecedented (It’s Also Centuries Old),” Code Switch, NPR, November 22, 2016, npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/11/22/502068751/the-standing-rock- resistance-is-unprecedented-it-s-also-centuries-old; Rithika Ramamurthy, “We Owe You Nothing: The Movement to Cancel Student Debt Gains Ground,” NPQ, February 9, 2022, nonprofitquarterly.org/we-owe-you-nothing-the-movement-to-cancel-student-debt-gains-ground/; and Alex N. Press, “A Stunning New Chapter Begins for Amazon Warehouse Workers,” Jacobin, April 1, 2022, jacobin.com/2022/04/amazon-labor-union-victory-jfk8-staten-island-bessemer.
  58. Stephen Lerner, Sarita Gupta, and Joseph McCartin, “Why the Labor Movement Has Failed—And How to Fix It,” Boston Review, May 1, 2019, www.bostonreview.net/articles/sarita-gupta-stephen-lerner-joseph-mccartin-why-labor-movement-has-failed.
  59. Steve Dubb, “Reclaiming Worker Control: New Forms of Ownership,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, no. 2 (Summer 2022): 24–31. See also Rithika Ramamurthy, “Why Striketober Matters: The Lasting Significance of This Fall’s Strike Wave,” NPQ, December 22, 2021, org/why-striketober- matters-the-lasting-significance-of-this-falls-strike-wave.
  60. Maurice Mitchell, “Building Resilient Organizations: Toward Joy and Durable Power in a Time of Crisis,” NPQ, The Forge, and Convergence, November 29, 2022, org/building-resilient-organizations-toward-joy-and-durable-power-in-a-time-of-crisis.
  61. Larry Buchanan, Quoctrung Bui, and Jugal Patel, “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History,” New York Times, July 3, 2020, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html.
  62. Gregory Krieg, “Occupy Wall Street rises up for Sanders,” CNN, April 13, 2016, cnn. com/2016/04/13/politics/occupy-wall-street-bernie-sanders-new-york-primary/index.html.
  63. Alex Press, “Can the UAW Rise Again?,” Jacobin, March 31, 2023, jacobin.com/2023/03/uaw-convention-bargaining-shawn-fain-reform.
  64. Sam Levin, “These US cities defunded police: ‘We’re transferring money to the community,’” The Guardian, March 11, 2021, theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/07/us-cities-defund-police-transferring-money-community.
  65. Ramamurthy, “We Owe You ”
  66. Rithika Ramamurthy, “A Planet to Win—Where Do We Start?,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 29, 3 (Fall 2022): 54–63.
  67. Cheyenna Layne Weber and Ali Issa, “Occupy Wall Street: A Look Back 10 Years after Zuccotti Park,” NPQ, September 22, 2021, org/occupy-wall-street-a-look-back-10-years-after-zuccotti-park.
  68. See john powell, “Bridging or Breaking? The Stories We Tell Will Create the Future We Inhabit,” Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine 26, no. 4 (Winter 2019): 46–50.
  69. Will Cordery, “Dear Philanthropy: These Are the Fires of Anti-Black Racism,” NPQ, June 1, 2020, org/dear-philanthropy-these-are-the-fires-of-anti-black-racism/; and Anastasia Reesa Tomkin, “Philanthropic Pledges for Racial Justice Found to Be Superficial,” NPQ, October 7, 2021, nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropic-pledges-for-racial-justice-found-to-be-superficial.
  70. Mitchell, “Building Resilient Organizations.”