The amount of California reparations, if any, remains up to the policy
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The leader of California’s first-in-the-nation reparations task force said Wednesday he won’t take a position on how much the state should reimburse black residents, who economists estimate could be owed more than $800 billion decades of over-policing, disproportionate incarceration and housing discrimination.
The $800 billion figure is more than 2.5 times California’s $300 billion annual budget and does not include the recommended $1 million per senior black resident due to health impairments that shorten their life expectancy. It also doesn’t include the figure for compensating people for property unfairly taken by the government, or the devaluation of black-owned businesses, two other harms the task force says are perpetuated by the state.
“All forms of discrimination should be addressed in compensation,” Thomas Kramer, a professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, said on a panel Wednesday. “The task force must boldly go beyond our loss estimates and determine what the right amount would be.”
Black residents may not receive cash payments anytime soon, if at all, because the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom will ultimately decide whether to pay reparations. The task force has until July 1 to recommend the forms of compensation and who should receive it, as well as other means to eliminate the damage.
But commission chairwoman Camille Moore said Wednesday that the state Legislature should set the restitution amount based on a methodology recommended by economists and approved by the task force on Wednesday.
“The task force is pretty much ready for the compensation component. Our challenge was to create a methodology for calculating different forms of compensation that are consistent with our findings,” she said in an email.
For those who support reparationsthe staggering figure of $800 billion underscores the lasting damage inflicted on black Americans, even in a state that never officially supported slavery.
Several people who made public comments Wednesday spoke of the urgent need to make black Americans pay for everything that was taken from them.
“My family came from the South because they were running for their lives, they were afraid of being lynched, just for voting,” said Charlton Curry of Sacramento, Calif., who discusses reparations on his Big C Sports podcast .
“Cash settlement is necessary. Money talk,” he said, noting that white people benefited from free U.S. public land through the Homestead Act of 1862, and Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II and Jewish victims of the Holocaust received reparations.
Critics attribute their opposition in part to the fact that California was never a slave state and say that current taxpayers should not be held responsible for damages caused by events that happened hundreds of years ago.
Bob Woodson, a prominent black conservative, calls reparations inappropriate, controversial and counterproductive.
“No amount of money can ever ‘fix’ the evil of slavery, and it’s insulting to suggest that it can,” he told The Associated Press in an email, adding that blacks rely on faith and family to build thriving communities. after slavery. “Some of these communities started to fall apart only after we lost sight of those values, which are also the key to rebuilding those communities.”
Financial compensation is only part of the package being considered. Other proposals include paying inmates market value for their labor, creating free health centers and planting more trees in black communities, banning cash bail and enacting a K-12 black studies program.
Compensation negotiations have stalled at the federal level, but the idea has flourished in California and in US cities and counties since the death of George Floyd, a black man, in the hands of Minneapolis police. In 2020, Newsom signed into law a reparations task force.
An advisory committee in San Francisco recommended $5 million in payouts, as well as guaranteed income of at least $97,000 and personal debt forgiveness for those who qualify. Controllers expressed general support but did not support specific proposals. They will address this issue later this year.
US Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday from Ghana that she and President Joe Biden support a reparations probe, but the president has so far dodged calls from supporters for a federal commission.
California’s $800 billion estimate includes $246 billion in compensation for black Californians whose neighborhoods were subjected to aggressive policing and prosecution in “war on drugs” from 1970 to 2020. That would mean nearly $125,000 for each person who qualifies, the consultants wrote.
Figures are approximate, based on modeling and population estimates. Economists also included $569 billion to offset discriminatory home loan discounting practices. This would amount to about $223,000 per eligible resident from 1933 to 1977. The $569 billion figure is considered the maximum and assumes that all 2.5 million Californians who identify as black would be eligible.
But not all of them will be. To receive cash compensation, people must meet residency and other requirements. They must also be descendants of enslaved and freed black people in the US as of the 19th century, which excludes black immigrants.
The task force on Wednesday also approved methodologies to devalue black businesses and unfairly seize assets. These methodologies do not have numbers due to lack of data.
AP White House reporter Chris Megerian reported from Accra, Ghana
This story has been corrected to reflect that the task force is not required to recommend specific compensation amounts in its July 1 report to the Legislature. Guidance is required on what form compensation should take and who should be entitled.