Reparations Task Force Recommends "Down Payments"

The California Reparations Task Force was scheduled to meet on May 6, 2023. The Task Force published documents on Monday, May 1. 2023, indicating it had plans to recommend the state apologize for racism and slavery, and consider “down payments’ of varying amounts to eligible African American residents, Cal Matters reported.

The documents, numbering more than 500 pages, do not contain an overall price tag for reparations, but they do include ways the state could calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850, when the state was established, through today due to certain government practices.

According to Cal Matters, the loss calculations would vary depending on type of racial harm and how long a person has lived in California. The loss estimates range from $2,300 per person per year of residence for over-policing of Black communities, to $77,000 total per person for Black-owned business losses and devaluations over the years.

The state-appointed task force faces a July 1, 2023, deadline to make reparations recommendations to the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Task force leaders said they expect the Legislature to come up with actual reparations amounts.

The task force is recommending a variety of policy changes to counteract discrimination.

The task force documents discuss two kinds of reparations: those arising from particular instances of discrimination or harm that require an individual to file a clam, and those that involve distributing money or benefits to all eligible Black Californians for racial harm the entire community experienced.

A recent examine of an individual claim was Bruce’s Beach, a beachfront property and resort in the city of Manhattan Beach seized from a Black family nearly 100 years ago. Recently, partly because of the task force, government leaders returned the land deed to descendants of the Bruce family, who re-sold it to Los Angeles County for $20 million.

USA TODAY reported that members of the California Reparations Task Force are set to vote on a plan detailing recommendations for state compensation of eligible African Americans for financial losses brought on by slavery and decades of institutional racism.

If passed, the group would submit final recommendations by June 30, 2023, to the California State Legislature, where lawmakers would decide whether to follow through with reparations and whether to accept or modify the methodology proposed by the task force.

Earlier this week, the group issued more details, including potential payout estimates calculated by economic advisors who considered areas of harm affecting the state’s Black community and their resulting economic losses. Each was assessed over particular time frames “since different laws and policies inflicted measurable injury across different periods,” the documents state.

The five areas of harm cited for consideration include health care inequities, housing discrimination, mass incarceration and over-policing of African Americans, unjust taking of property by eminent domain and devaluation of African American businesses.

Lewis, a member of the task force, said those areas extend beyond slavery itself, precluding arguments that California should not be responsible for reparations having not been a slave state.

As proposed by the task force, residents who can show descendant from enslaved persons and eligibility under each category could be enticed to certain amounts. For example, a Black resident who is 71 years old – the average life expectancy for the California’s Black population – and had lived in the state their entire life could be eligible for about $1.2 million.

According to USA TODAY, a similar process was used in the determination to eligible Japanese Americans affected by the injustices of World War II relocation and internment. Eligible surviving recipients received $200,000 and an apology from then-President Ronald Reagan.

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