A reparations task force convened by California Gov. Gavin Newsom has concluded that California residents who are the descendants of slaves are owed at least $223,200 in reparations each, or $569 billion total.
Those Californians specifically eligible for the reparations, assuming this plan was ever approved by the state legislature, “would be descendants of enslaved African Americans or of a ‘free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century,'” The New York Times notes, quoting the task force.
According to the Times, the $569 billion estimate would cover the reparations allegedly owed for housing discrimination that occurred between 1933 and 1977.
However, the Times further notes that the task force has also identified other “areas” of compensation, including mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, and devaluation of black businesses and health care.
“Final figures will be released in the report next year,” the paper reported Thursday.
The U.S.’s stark racial disparities and persistent wealth gap have driven attempts to compensate Black citizens for the economic legacy of slavery and racism. Now, California is undertaking the nation’s most ambitious effort yet to pay reparations. https://t.co/qEuC19qRGj pic.twitter.com/VM0rv3AuHi
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 1, 2022
The Daily Mail notes that even just the $569 billion total “is more than California’s $512.8 billion expenditure in 2021 — which included funding for schools, hospitals, universities, highways, policing and corrections.”
It’s not clear how much higher the $569 would go once the other “areas” of compensation are factored into the equation. All that’s known is that the task force has until the summer of 2023 to submit its final recommendations.
Moreover, the task force also has yet to decide “how reparations should be distributed — some favor tuition and housing grants while others want direct cash payments,” according to the Times.
The “nine-member Reparations Task Force has spent months traveling across California to learn about the generational effects of racist policies and actions,” the Times notes.
“The group, formed by legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, is scheduled to release a report to lawmakers in Sacramento next year outlining recommendations for state-level reparations,” according to the Times.
Speaking with the Times, task force member Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at Berkeley, said, “We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction.”
That said, the backlash is already beginning to brew, including on Twitter:
Starting to think the wall should be built at the California border instead of Mexico
— Awsome Roberts (@awsome_roberts) December 2, 2022
Who’s gonna pay for that? Everyone else—none of whom had anything to do with slavery? That would be theft!
— Erling Nielsen (@PNWcaptive) December 2, 2022
It’s the most ridiculous idea ever. Time to change my residency and get away from this absolute madness.
— Steven Johnson (@StevenFantasyF) December 2, 2022
OK. If we want to go down that little trail, what about reparations for the Native Americans? Or the Japanese Americans who were disenfranchised during world war two? Or the German & Italian Americans who were similarly mistreated? Or just about every other ethnicity?
— ⚖️Martin D. Maola⚖️ (@MartinMaola) December 1, 2022
And exactly where is he getting this money? Because CA has big problems that they’re ignoring! So Who’s funneling the money to him to buy these votes because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about! The Pelosi/Newsom financial bucket is deep, dishonest and dirty!
— Mary4USA (@AmaoricanGirl3) December 2, 2022
Fascinatingly, comments from the Times’ own notoriously liberal readers have been just as harsh. Indeed, all the top-voted comments in the Times appear to be staunchly against these proposed reparations.
Take the first comment, which pithily notes that this idea of paying reparations “has several problems,” including the fact that “[o]nly a small minority of White Americans owned slaves and most White Americans descend from immigrants who arrived post-1865 and did not own slaves, and thus do not owe reparations.”
The second top-voted comment is similar.
“To be clear; California wants to take money from people that have never owned slaves, give it to people who never were slaves in a State that never allowed slavery. There is no future for a nation that doles out resources based on group identity,” it reads.
This isn’t to say that real discrimination didn’t happen. It surely did, particularly in places like Russell City, California, which used to exist near the San Francisco shoreline up until it was bulldozed in the 1960s and replaced with an industrial park.
One former Russell City resident, Monique Henderson-Ford, said she was paid a measly $2,200 for her home, despite it costing three times as much, prior to the bulldozing that destroyed her community and home.
“Imagine if the houses were still here. We would all be sitting on a fortune,” she told the Times.
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