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The state of California has publicly documented its own role in perpetuating discrimination against African Americans. Per NBC News, as a result, many now wonder if reparations will be enacted to right the wrongs.
Justin Hansford, a longtime reparations advocate and law professor at Howard University, called the report an exciting development.
The danger here is that everyone reads it and nods their heads and waits on the task force to initiate the response,” said Hansford, who also serves as the director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center in Washington, D.C. “We need to have universities, local governments, businesses and others working together to do their part to address some of the recommendations.”
Per NBC News, the 500-page document released Wednesday details the harms suffered by descendants of enslaved people and how federal, state and local laws, public officials and the courts were active in sustaining systemic racism in all facets of life for African Americans, despite the abolition of slavery in the 19th century.
Black suffrage is often studied, yet rarely rectified by reparations.
As studies document the inhumanity of the trans Atlantic slave trade, the horrors of racialized bondage, the bombings of Black towns, or the true cost of gentrification, reparations have alluded Black people in America time and again. We’re often told we are the most disproportionately affected people across a multitude of systemic failures and that is generally where the story ends.
For decades upon decades, studies that tell everyone what they already know are released and only marginal progress is made to heal the wounds left unattended this whole time. Did California do Black people worse than in Louisiana, South Carolina, Illinois, or Nevada? The truth is, the system which allowed Black people to suffer in California is the very same one in Oregon, or Oklahoma.
Unless reparations are provided, learning more about Black suffrage offers the same empty calorie experience as watching a slave movie only to leave the theater feeling like nothing has changed. What good is knowing better if doing better is not the next step?
2020’s racial reckoning in California sparked decision to study.
The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, which was created by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, recommended a long list of actions the state can take to address the racial wealth gap. Per NBC News, that list included housing reforms, reducing mass incarceration, creating a state-subsidized mortgage program for qualifying African American applicants and by offering free tuition to California colleges and universities and expanding scholarship opportunities.
Rick Callender, president of the California Hawaii State Conference NAACP in Sacramento, California touted the historic research. “When reports such as these are created for the first time in the nation’s history, they are a compelling model for other states to address the same issues. As California goes, so goes the nation,” Callender said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The task force, which began meeting in June 2021, will release a comprehensive reparations plan next year. The committee voted in March to limit reparations to the descendants of African Americans living in the U.S. in the 19th century, overruling advocates who wanted to expand compensation to all Black people in the U.S.
California was the first state to create a task force on reparations.