Historical Reparations Report Makes Cases for Paying Descendants of Slaves in California

California on Wednesday released a unique report outlining the case for reparations to the descendants of US slaves, along with tentative recommendations on what that reparation might look like.

The report, released by a nine-person reparations task force, details California’s history of participating in white supremacy through slavery and subsequent government policies and actions that served to discriminate against black residents in every facet of their lives. The task force’s dozens of recommendations on reparations to black Californians descended from US slaves would seek to remedy these widespread harms, including a persistent racial property gap – but did not include a specific call for direct payments, which are expected to come in a will be final report next year.

“This is a great day for all Californians and a great day for democracy,” Lisa Holder, civil rights attorney and task force member, told MarketWatch. “I am very, very proud to be a part of this historic initiative and to be associated with this groundbreaking report and analysis.”

Holder said, “Growing up, I knew I had to work twice as hard to get half as much. This is a bitter pill for a young person to swallow. This report tells the world – and black youth in particular – the historical discrimination that has created the imbalance and inequality that requires them to work twice as hard to be seen as half as good.”

The task force was the result of a bill authored by then-Rep. Shirley Weber, who has since been appointed Secretary of State, and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020. It is the nation’s largest reparations measure to date. and some proponents hope it can help pave the way for federal action that has stalled for three decades.

While California outlawed slavery, the task force found that racial policies and violence in the state perpetuated it and held back slaves’ descendants for several generations.

“In California, racial violence against African Americans began during slavery, continued through the 1920s as groups like the Ku Klux Klan penetrated local government and police departments, and peaked after World War II when African Americans attempted to move into white neighborhoods to pull.” is the report.

It goes on to say that residential segregation led to harm that included negative impacts on blacks through pollution and substandard infrastructure. One recommendation among many that the task force is therefore making is a government-subsidized mortgage system that guarantees low interest rates for qualified applicants.

William Darity, Jr., a Duke University professor, told MarketWatch that he believes local and state reparations efforts are inadequate. As an economist and co-author of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, Darity said he served as an honorary advisor to California’s Task Force Mullen, alongside co-author A. Kirsten. He said they have advocated a federal approach to reparations for decades because they estimate trillions of dollars are needed to close the racial wealth gap.

They recommended that the task force identify state-specific harms and make recommendations based on those findings, he said.

“What might be unique to California is the discriminatory exercise of high-level powers or the particular way in which over-policing and mass incarceration have been directed against the black community,” Darity said. “The task force has been given a very, very difficult project — to develop a program of action on a problem best suited for federal action.”

Task force chair Kamilah Moore said language in California law does not prevent the United States from making reparations.

“We recognize and are aware that reparations are primarily a federal matter,” she told MarketWatch in an interview ahead of the publication of the report.

See: Reparations are a “human rights issue” that will boost the economy, says California task force Chair

For people like Tiffany Quarles — a black woman in her early 40s who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and said she “did everything right” by going to college and then finding a job in the entertainment industry — reparations would right stubborn injustices that exist influenced her life.

“When you work in Hollywood at an entry level, you see the difference between white people who make as much as you but could afford to live in Brentwood,” she said, referring to an upscale LA suburb. “Her family had wealth and mine didn’t.”

Quarles is co-chair of the Los Angeles National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants, and she and other activists worked with Weber’s office on the reparations issue before the law was passed and the task force formed. She said her life was marked by prejudice as her family moved from the South to a segregated Los Angeles, where she found that even after college and starting work, she was “easier to get fired or fired and gained experience” Microaggressions” in the workplace.

The task force is trying to address concerns like Quarles’. One recommendation calls for an increase in funding for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and another seeks to “establish a fund to help develop and sustain black-owned businesses and remove barriers to licensing that are not strictly necessary.” are and harm Black workers.”

Chris Lodgson, a black businessman, said that as the task force continues to work on more specific recommendations ahead of the release of its final report, due next summer, he foresees more specific business-related policy recommendations, such as guaranteed contracts for black-owned companies.

Lodgson, who is also involved in demanding reparations from the state as the lead organizer of the Coalition for a Just and Just California, said he runs “a company that is the largest database and directory of black businesses in Sacramento County.”

“This is a historic time for our people,” he added. “We haven’t been this close to reparations since the end of the Civil War.”

After a year of meeting and working on the nearly 500-page report, the unpaid task force will hold more meetings and public hearings over the next year. Its final report, which will include “a detailed reparation program for African Americans” to be submitted to the state legislature, is scheduled for release next summer. Historical Reparations Report Makes Cases for Paying Descendants of Slaves in California

Brian Lowry

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