California reparations task force to recommend ‘down payments’ for slavery, racism

Residents of African American descent who are eligible can consider varying amounts of “down payments” and the Task Force on Reparations for Slavery and Racism in California recommends that the state apologize, as indicated in documents published on Monday.

Since its establishment in 1850, California has experienced various government practices that have affected the calculation of financial losses incurred by African Americans in the state. However, these practices do not provide a comprehensive estimate for reparations. The extensive collection of documents, comprising over 500 pages, addresses this issue.

The loss calculations for Black-owned businesses and devaluations range from $77,000 per individual over the years. Additionally, for the over-policing of Black communities, the loss estimates amount to $2,300 per person per year of residence. The extent of racial harm and the duration of a person’s California residency are factors that determine the variability in the calculations of losses.

The appointed state task force faces a deadline of July 1 to make recommendations to Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature regarding the expected amounts of actual reparations.

The task group is also suggesting a range of policy alterations to combat prejudice.

“Expressed Monica Montgomery Steppe, a council member from San Diego who serves on the task force, “during the ‘listening session’ in San Diego on Saturday, she delivered a speech. Additionally, we must assess policies that impede our progress, rather than merely providing compensation. It is crucial that we provide adequate compensation.”

Who would receive compensation?

The task force documents discuss two kinds of reparations, specifically addressing instances of harm or discrimination that require individuals to file a claim and involve distributing benefits or money to all eligible Black Californians, thereby experiencing harm to the entire community.

Los Angeles County acquired the land deed from the Bruce family’s heirs for a sum of $20 million, as a result of the efforts made by the task force. Following the city of Manhattan Beach’s appropriation of Bruce’s Beach, a beachfront property and resort, almost a century ago, the government officials decided to restore the land deed to the descendants of the Bruce family.

It is one of the rare occasions when a Black family had their confiscated property returned by a local government.

“It is critical that we compensate, but not just compensate. We also need to evaluate policy that continues to hold us back.”

Monica Montgomery Steppe, reparations Task force and san diego city council member

The ongoing debate surrounding reparations eligibility remains controversial. The task force in March 2022 decided to restrict the potential restitution for descendants of both free and enslaved Black individuals who resided in the United States during the 19th century. The group narrowly dismissed a suggestion to encompass all Black individuals, regardless of their lineage, including recent immigrants.

According to the task force report, all individuals in the qualified category should receive compensation, regardless of their ability to demonstrate a particular injury.

The report states, “California enacted laws and regulations that unfairly treated and oppressed African Americans who were either free or enslaved, as well as their offspring.” “The reparative solution should mirror these unjust policies, as they did not differentiate between these individuals.”

The final report, like the previous interim report, lays out the ongoing injustices and systemic racism in the history of California.

Expenses associated with racial harm

Instead of waiting for complete loss calculations, the records advise the Legislature to initiate with “initial payments.” Qualified individuals should receive cash compensation promptly, as recommended by the most recent collection of documents.

The ultimate report proposes monetary amounts for specific classifications of racial harm.

  • The nationwide campaign against illegal drugs is associated with an average individual financial burden of $115,260, equivalent to an annual cost of $2,352 for each year of residence in California from 1971 to 2020. This estimation takes into account the impact of mass imprisonment and the disproportionately high level of police presence in Black communities.
  • The loss per individual due to calculation is $148,099, with an annual amount of $3,366 for each year they resided in California between 1933 and 1977. Alternatively, losses amounting to $145,847 per person can be attributed to disparities in “housing wealth” between Black and white individuals. Discriminatory lending and zoning, which includes the historical practice of “redlining” by governments, are two forms of housing discrimination identified through this alternative approach.
  • In California, the average life expectancy for Black residents in 2021 is about 71 years, with each person living for a total of $966,921 or $13,619 per year. These estimates highlight the discrimination and injustices in healthcare.
  • The report states that the program of reparations would be overseen by a new state agency, which would also be responsible for providing evidence and documenting individuals who are assisting in identifying specific injustices. Additionally, this agency would distribute funds and assess eligibility for the program.

    The recommendations of the task force are unclear, and it is uncertain whether Newsom and the state Legislature will decide to pay any reparations. Black residents who are eligible should not expect cash payments anytime soon.

    Khansa T. Jones-Muhammad, who is also recognized as Friday Jones, a representative of Los Angeles’ reparations advisory committee, expressed, “Now is the moment when we truly require the input of the general public.” “Presently is the ideal time to unite your churches. This is the moment to unite your school boards.”

    Jones expressed his opinions during the listening session in San Diego.

    Reparations in forms other than cash

    Some members of the task force have been dismayed by the amount of attention paid to the dollar figures discussed in the final report, which provides recommendations aimed at preventing further harm and discrimination against black residents.

    “We advocate for a policy modification at our state legislature, striving to guarantee that everyone is fully committed to it. The government and California’s Legislature require robust backing for those suggestions once the task force releases its ultimate findings,” stated Montgomery Steppe. “Enforcing all of these suggestions represents the most significant battle.”