Despite that California was never a slave state, the San Francisco reparations committee recently announced a proposal to pay each multi-decade black resident of the City $5 million. The reparations committee also proposed granting total debt forgiveness due to the decades of “systematic repression” faced by the local Black community.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide Reparations Task Force, created and signed into law during the COVID statewide lockdowns and Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, criticized the media two weeks ago for focusing on their $800 billion proposed estimate of reparations (four times the size of the California State Budget), calling the monetary figure the “least important” part of the proposal. However that “least important” part of the proposal would bankrupt the state of California.
As Governor, Newsom “appointed five individuals with a range of expertise and diverse backgrounds to serve on the state’s task force on reparations, after signing landmark legislation in 2020 to advance racial justice,” a May 2021 press statement from the Governor said. The committee is the result of legislation authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), Assembly Bill 3121.
The California Reparations Task Force published documents Monday indicating it plans to recommend the state apologize for racism and slavery and consider “down payments” of varying amounts to eligible African American residents.
The documents, numbering more than 500 pages, do not contain an overall price tag for reparations, but they do include ways the state could calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850, when the state was established, through today due to certain government practices.
…the task force has estimated that black residents of the state are owed $1.2 million each in compensation for the legacy of slavery, even though the state entered the Union as a free state in 1850.
The estimate reportedly includes the damage caused not only by slavery — such as it was — but also “mass incarceration,” housing discrimination, and health risks that are said to be worse among black residents.
The Globe recently reported in detail on considerations by the Reparations Task Force:
In June 2022 the Task Force released its first report, giving a recommendation of reparations, in the form of home buying assistance, free college tuition, and business grants. However, one of the many criticisms against the report recommendations was that no estimated monetary figure was attached. In early December, an estimate of $569 billion was provided by the state, leading to disbelief and the threat of lawsuits if the number holds. Later that month, compensation compensation and eligibility requirements were discussed.
With the $569 billion figure overwhelmingly dismissed, the Task Force has looked for a possible figure in the past several months. Another estimate released this week by economists and policy officials for a total of $800 billion dollars, or roughly 2 and a half times the current state budget, met a similar reaction of disbelief, and pressured the Task Force even further to take a stand. The roughly $400,000 per African American in California figure overwhelmed the Task Force last month, refusing to give an official recommended amount.
There hasn’t been any discussion publicly yet about how this would be paid given the size and scope of the payments to black residents. It is also unclear how legally binding this proposal is since California was a free state. Critics of the reparations task force and proposals say the proposal isn’t realistic and would eat up the entire state budget for just under three years.
Under the authority of the California Attorney General’s office, Assembly Bill 3121 (AB 3121) was enacted on September 30, 2020 and establishes the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (Task Force or Reparations Task Force). AB 3121 charges the California Department of Justice with providing administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the Task Force.
More to come…
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