A reparations task force in California is about to recommended that the state not only apologize to Black residents by also issue them “down payments” that’ll help make amends for slavery and ongoing discrimination that happened in the U.S.
This request is sure to bring plenty of criticism, especially as California outlawed slavery right from the get-go when it was admitted to the Union back in 1850. In other words, slavery was never legal in California, yet the state is planning to pay people reparations for it.
In 2020, the state Legislature created this task force through a bill that Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed. On Monday, the group published a huge book of documents indicating they plan to recommend that California formally apologize for racism and slavery. The group’s recommendations also include considering giving Black Californians who are eligible payments of different amounts to serve as reparations.
The recommendations don’t stop there, though. The task force believes that there should be policy changes that happen in California as well, including doing away with cash bail. While there are plenty of liberal supporters of such a move, it’s also very controversial, and many people have blamed the steep increase in crime in certain parts of the country on just such a policy.
In March, economists gave a preliminary estimate of how much a full-blown reparations plan might cost California, and the number they landed on was in excess of $800 billion. That figure also doesn’t take into account funds that would need to be given to Black residents who had property taken away from them unjustly, or to Black-owned businesses who experienced devaluation of their company as a result of slavery and racism.
That’s an astronomical sum of money, especially considering California’s state budget is only about $300 billion per year.
The latest documents that the task force drafted don’t include any price tag of the plan they are proposing. They instead outline some ways that the state could end up calculating the amount of money that Black residents have lost as a result of discrimination from the time California first became a state in 1850 until today.
According to the documents, the calculations vary and take into consideration how long someone has lived in the state as wella s the type of racial harm they suffered.
The report does lay out some cost estimates for specific types of discrimination, outlining how much Black residents should be paid for each.
Over-policing of Black communities, for example, cost California residents $2,352 per person for every year they lived in California. Discriminatory lending and zoning cost $3,366 per person a year. And business losses and devaluations come to $77,000 per person.
In addition to giving out these dollar amounts, the task force urged the state of California to make “down payments” in cash as soon as they could while they are making the final calculations for how much everyone should get in reparations.