On May 6, 2023, the California Reparations Task Force voted to approve a set of recommendations for the payment of reparations to Black Californians.
The recommendations call for the creation of a state office to administer reparations, the payment of a "down payment" to eligible Black Californians, and a variety of other measures to address the historical and ongoing harms of slavery and discrimination.
Here is what Governor Gavin Newsom told Fox News about the recently voted on recommendations:
"Dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments. Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing. Breaking down barriers to vote, bolstering resources to address hate, enacting sweeping law enforcement and justice reforms to build trust and safety" -Gavin Newsom
The task force was created in 2020 by Assembly Bill 3121, which was sponsored by then-Assemblymember Shirley Weber, who is now the Secretary of State of California.
The task force was charged with studying the history of slavery and discrimination in California and making recommendations for reparations.
The task force's report found that slavery and discrimination have had a devastating impact on Black Californians, resulting in lower incomes, higher rates of poverty, and worse health outcomes.
The report also found that the state of California has benefited from the labor of enslaved people and from the exploitation of Black Californians.
The reparations task force recommendations include:
- The creation of a state office to administer reparations. The office would be responsible for determining eligibility for reparations, distributing payments, and monitoring the impact of reparations.
- The payment of a "down payment” to eligible Black Californians. The down payment would be intended to provide immediate relief to Black Californians and to help them build wealth.
- A variety of other measures to address the historical and ongoing harms of slavery and discrimination.
The task force's recommendations have been met with mixed reactions. Some people support the recommendations, arguing that they are a necessary step to address the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination.
Others oppose the recommendations, arguing that they are unfair to white Americans, as well as potentially to California taxpayers, and that they will not solve the problems facing Black Americans.
There are a number of reasons why Black Californians are unlikely to see cash reparations checks in the near future.
The cost would be prohibitive. To compensate Black residents for generations of over-policing, disproportionate incarceration and housing discrimination, economists have estimated the cost of reparations could reach or exceed $800 billion dollars. This is a significant amount of money, and it is not clear where the state would find it.
Could California reparations be paid out as universal basic income (UBI)?
There are several reasons why UBI could be a way to pay reparations to Blacks in California. It would be a direct and equitable way to distribute reparations. All Black American descendants of slavery living in California would receive the same amount of money.
UBI would be a way to promote economic growth and opportunity for the Black community. Evidence suggests UBI can lead to increased entrepreneurship, job creation, and economic growth. This is because UBI gives people the financial security they need to take risks and start businesses. It also gives people the time and energy to focus on their education and job training.
The idea of reparations is controversial, and there is no strong public support for it. Even among Black Californians, there is no consensus on whether or not reparations are the best way to address the legacy of slavery and discrimination.
There are legal challenges to reparations. Some people argue that reparations would be unconstitutional, as they would amount to the government taking property from one group of people and giving it to another.
For these reasons, it is unlikely that Black Californians will see cash reparations checks anytime soon.
Black Political Opinion is a multi-part opinion-editorial series that will look at various political topics, news, and views that impact the black community. (Disclaimer: Lashaun is a Black female, conservative leaning Independent, who voted for Biden in 2020).
Read More Black Political Opinion: