California Weighs $360,000 in Reparations to Eligible Black Residents. Will Others Follow?

California is moving closer to determining what eligible Black residents are owed for generations of discriminatory practices, a key step toward potentially becoming the largest US jurisdiction to pay out billions of dollars in reparations.

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The California Reparations Task Force will meet over the next two days in Sacramento to assess how reparations should be distributed, which could include direct payments and investments in education, health care and homeownership for Black communities. The group is set to deliver its final recommendations to the state legislature by July 1 and it will be up to lawmakers to decide whether to adopt them.

Tackling the issue is a complex task for the group of civil rights leaders, policymakers, economists and scholars appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd. One of the models under consideration suggests the state would owe a total of almost $640 billion to 1.8 million Black Californians with an ancestor enslaved in the US, which works out to roughly $360,000 per person.

California’s task force has yet to say who would pay these sums. After years of budget surpluses, the state’s financial fortunes are turning, with a projected $22.5 billion budget deficit. The technology sector is laying off workers, stock market declines are hurting the incomes of top earners who pay a large share of taxes, and the state already has some of the highest taxes in the nation.

Read More: The Historical Reasons Behind U.S. Racial Wealth Gap

With a federal reparations bill languishing in Congress, how the outcome plays out in the most-populous US state may have implications for other areas that are weighing similar efforts across the country. Evanston, Illinois, in 2021 became the first US city to provide reparations to its Black residents, including giving housing grants, and reparations studies are springing up in places like New York and St. Louis.

“If California can admit its sins and change the narrative, then there is a way forward for states and cities across the nation,” said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who wrote the bill creating the task force when she served in the state assembly.

One of the most difficult questions the task force faces is how to define the historical period for measuring harms experienced by Black residents in a state where slavery was never legal. And they’ll need to show how the reparations and policy changes will reduce the persistent racial wealth gap, which has left US White families with roughly six times more wealth than Black families. 

Read More: How Reparations Fit Into New Push for Racial Justice

A prevailing method is to use the racial wealth gap as an indicator of the losses that Black descendants of enslaved people suffered, according to an interim report by a working group for the task force. Using that model, a conservative estimate would be the state owed $636.7 billion. 

Another proposed strategy would be to calculate damages related to various injustices, including housing discrimination, mass incarceration, over-policing, health harms, devaluation of businesses, and property seizures.

The chair of California’s panel, Kamilah Moore, earlier this year tweeted a news story recounting proposals to fund reparations that included adding mansion or estate levies or offering tax credits.

Some California cities, including Los Angeles, have started their own reparations task forces outside of the state effort. In San Francisco, one notable proposal involves a $5 million lump-sum payment to each eligible Black resident. In a recent win for repatriation advocates, Los Angeles County returned the deed to a prime Southern California beach front property that had been forcibly taken from a Black couple a century ago. The descendants of the owners have now decided to sell the property back to the county for almost $20 million.

“These local initiatives are extremely important to start a conversation,” said Thomas Craemer, associate professor of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut, who consults with the California task force on economic methodology. “The past is the past. But we can start a conversation about it by making a down payment and then addressing what other injustices happened.” 

The issue of reparations has divided public opinion. About three-quarters of Black Americans say the descendants of enslaved people should be repaid in some way, while only 18% percent of White Americans feel the same way, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

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  1. this is why over 700,000 californians have left this communist fascist racist one party state……….so far!!! If I had the money I’d leave too!!

    • Franklin S says

      I doubt this thing would pass, but supposing it did…has anyone considered how blacks would be treated after winning such a ridiculous and unfair settlement?

      • I wouldn’t treat them any differently than Some may view them differently. I see your point. I don’t think it will pass. This is taxpayer money and the decision will have consequences. We’ve already discovered over 1.5 million illegal voters and are slowly draining the swamp. This is one of their last ditch efforts to win over that segments vote. I wish them luck. It’s all political.

  2. tracker1 says

    Talk about racial discrimination!! This is as bad as it gets. Giving reparations to people two or more generations later has NO foundation of logic. It is a give away to hold the vote of people who do not deserve it. Where does one draw the line? Slavery still exists across America – just listen to the reports of the thousands who are coming to America across our southern border as sex slaves or forced workers with no pay. Those are here because the Democrats/liberals have opened the borders to the cartels and others that find people in America willing to violate all of our laws that prohibit these things – as well as a Democrat leadership that actually enhances it. Let’s vote for a new government that will enforce our laws and go after those in other countries that are violating those human rights laws.

  3. Digusted taxpayer says

    So – ya brilliant idiots running CA – WHAT will ya do with those who can even PROVE their ancestors were slaves and they also have white ancestors who owned slaves??? This is beyond stupid! CA never had black slaves. If any – it was the indigenous people here! Why aren’t you giving them reparations? And while we’re at it – what about the Chinese who were brought here with promise of a return trip – AFTER they built the railroads??? They were dumped and no money to return.

    Appears you politicians have NOT thought this out. Just like you didn’t think of the ramifications of dealing with your homeless or your illegals 1 and now your tax paying, law-abiding citizens are leaving in droves!!! How in the name of Sam Hill are you going to pay for all these reparations?? And while we’re discussing money – what happened to the huge surplus that’s just disappeared????

  4. Everett is SPOT-On about leaving this communist ##))@@#*&%& state but why are we paying for mistakes of history? I believe ALL ethnic groups should be recognized for their endurance of slavery to overcome racism. How about learning from those mistakes in history? isn’t that what history is all about? LEARN and not to rely on GOVERNMENT (taxpayer dollars)??? Be self-reliant which leads to freedom!!!

  5. This is beyond ridiculous – maybe if this vote passes it will start some momentum of Dems to the center again as the taxes are raised on everyone else to pay for this. I bet any such tax increase would exempt black persons! So if a person with a white and a black parent is physically black (genes for Black hair, skin color, etc.) but in fact his ancestry is say 60% white (because most Black people have been mixed with whites, Asians or Amerindians over the years), does he or she get the money? Will all black people who want the money be required to do DNA testing to show they are truly more than 50% black? I would not be surprised if less than 20% of all black people were less than 50% black. The devil is in the details, as always.

  6. JimNorCal says

    Sure, makes sense: in a never-slave state, take money from people who never owned slaves to people who never were slaves.
    Two quick questions:

    1) I have a family member who died fighting to free the black in the US Civil War.
    What do I get?

    2) Black activists like Angela Davis have White forebears. I don’t think they were abolitionist Republicans, far more likely they were pro-slavery Democrats.
    Should she be eligible for a pay out?

    • sweetsuzee says

      Let’s take it one step farther. The very FIRST slave owner in our America, formerly colonial America, was a BLACK man named Anthony Johnson. His slave’s name was John Casor. The courts did not allow whites to hold slaves back then, only indentured servants. Also, at the beginning of the Civil War there were over 3,000 black families in New Orleans who were slave owners and less than I believe it was 1,000. They should be made to PROVE they are descendants of slaves rather than slave holders. Every one should DEMAND that the legislators do their homework before completing such nonsense.

  7. Just plain-ass stupid and unfair to taxpayers.

  8. Bogiewheel says

    Let’s be honest, this is only occurring to lock in voters.

  9. Stupidity at its best! What about those who had ancestors who fought on each side? What about American Indians? What about…………on and on it goes. Learn from history; do not relive it.

  10. Houses prices are tumbling in California and people are leaving. Lori Lightfoot didn’t get voted back in. Newsome better take a lesson. Radical = no job. But we all know this is nothing but a political move to gain that segment of the popluations votes and it WON’T FLY.

  11. STUPIDITY IN ACTION! How many people alive today were slaves? How many of their parents? Grand parents? How many people alive were slave owners? Parents? Grand parents?
    Even Angela Davis slave owning relatives are past 3 generations of slave ownership.
    We have real issues we should be dedicating time and resources to instead of wasting them on ridiculousness.

  12. As a white person, I should get reparations for two generations of affirmative action aka reverse discrimination. Hand out all this taxpayer money and in a few years most of the recipients will be no better off than the majority of those who when the lottery—— they will be flat broke. On top of that, with the large numbers leaving the state, many with big money, ca may be in debt that they will never get out of. You think newsome will care? Most likely he will move on to greener pastures where he can fleece someone else.

  13. Ms. Right says

    Newsome thinks this will help him to run for president, even if he doesn’t succeed, giving away free money is what dems do. Like Biden and forgiving student loans. We’ll see if American voters are that stupid.

  14. Rottweiler says

    Stupid is as stupid does! The voters of California have proven that for decades.

  15. Rottweiler says

    Don’t forget they will have to pay 50% of it back to the IRS as “added income” and they can’t escape the inheritance or “death tax” these nods voted for. Still undeserved funds of the victim mentality that California, New York, Chicago and Hawaii suffers from.

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