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California’s task force to study and develop reparations proposals for Black people is set to vote on which Black Americans should be eligible for compensation.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsome signed legislation in 2020, creating a two-year reparations task force to study the institution of slavery and its impact on Black people in the U.S.
The bill-turned-into-law, authored by California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, established the task force emphasizing that providing reparations is “an issue of descendancy and lineage” and said those with ancestral ties to Black people who were enslaved in the U.S. should be prioritized.
Ahead of Tuesday’s potential vote, some members of the task force want to limit financial and other compensation to descendants of enslaved people while others say that all Black people in the U.S., regardless of lineage, suffer from systemic racism in housing, education and employment.
California task force
Compensation could include free college, assistance buying homes and launching businesses, and grants to churches and community organizations, advocates say.
Kamilah Moore, the committee’s chair, said she expects robust discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, which will include testimony from genealogists. She favors eligibility based on lineage, rather than race, saying it will have the best chance of surviving a legal challenge in a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
A reparations plan based on race would attract “hyper-aggressive challenges that could have very negative implications for other states looking to do something similar, or even for the federal government,” she said.
Cities Across the Nation Studying Reparations
The California task force has been a model for cities across the country looking to consider reparations for their communities.
The coalition, which has grown to 13 members, includes Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif., Denver, Stockton, Calif., St. Louis, Kansas City, MO, Austin, TX, Providence, RI, Durham, NC, Asheville, NC, Carrboro, NC, St. Paul, Minn., and Tullahassee, Okla.
There is broad agreement among advocates of the need for multi-faceted remedies for related yet separate harms, such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration and redevelopment that resulted in displacement of Black communities.
The two-year California task force has a report update due in June with a reparations proposal due by July 2023 for the legislature to consider turning into law.