Posted on November 1, 2022

California Reparations Push Could Give Black Residents Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Levi Sumagaysay, Market Watch, October 28, 2022

Keisha Brown, 49, is married with five children and lives in a Bay Area suburb. Even with two incomes, she said, she and her family are struggling.

Rent keeps going up. They’re having to use credit cards. The house they rent in Antioch, Calif., is now worth about $700,000. That’s more than what Brown, who works in human resources, and her husband, a bus driver, would qualify to buy.

So if California becomes the first state in the nation to provide possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in reparations to its qualifying Black residents, it would mean a significant boost for Brown and her family.

“Of course [reparations] would mean better for our children,” Brown said. “It would secure some stability, and we could have something to leave our kids. They won’t have to be robbing Peter to pay Paul like we’ve had to.”

For California’s estimated 1.8 million Black residents who are descendants of enslaved people, reparations could allow many of them to finally buy a house, pay off student loans, try to build generational wealth and more. MarketWatch talked with Brown and other Black Californians, who are at different stages in their lives, and they all said reparations would help them in some way.

Economic consultants for the state’s reparations task force — established by law and the first of its kind at the state level — recently presented calculations for certain scenarios that include figures amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in reparations for each California resident who can prove they are the descendant of an enslaved person.

Among those figures:

  • Reparations based on the average national racial wealth gap: $358,293.
  • Reparations based on the value of certain state-level harms: $223,239 for housing discrimination and redlining; $124,678 for disproportionate mass incarceration; $127,226 per year of life expectancy for health harms because of healthcare disparities and other factors.
  • Reparations based on a hybrid model that would take into account both the national racial wealth gap and state-level harms: The task force would determine on what percentage of the national racial wealth gap amount California should “make a down payment.”

Additional dollar figures could be coming. Task force chair Kamilah Moore told MarketWatch that “there might be even more requests from the economic consultants to come up with further monetary reparations” between now and mid-December, when the task force is scheduled to hold its next public meeting in Oakland.

The task force publicized its first report over the summer, and it has until next June to submit its second and final report to the state legislature. The state’s lawmakers will consider the task force’s recommendations, and could possibly write legislation on what type of and how much in reparations Black residents should receive.


Even those with established careers would welcome what they feel they deserve because of systemic racism.

Dante King, 46, a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, teaches African American studies as guest faculty at the University of California-San Francisco. He teaches a course at the Mayo Clinic, and has worked in human resources doing diversity, equity and inclusion work. He also self-published a book titled “The 400-Year Holocaust: White America’s Legal, Psychopathic, and Sociopathic Black Genocide — and the Revolt Against Critical Race Theory.”

Reparations “could be a game changer for people like myself who still suffer from being discriminated against,” King said. The first in his family to go to college, he has debt from his doctoral degree and is no longer a homeowner. He would use the money to pay off his loans and buy a house again. He also hopes to be able to leave an inheritance for his nephew.


The Black homeownership rate in the state in 2019 was 36.8%, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, compared with 63.2% for whites, 60.2% for Asians and 44.1% percent for Latinos. {snip}


Those disparities are why Gigi Crowder, the executive director of the Contra Costa County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is spearheading a campaign to establish a hub in Contra Costa County in the Bay Area to provide financial and wellness education for Black people.


But what is foremost in her mind is how she wants the Black community to benefit from reparations in the long term, which is why she’s pushing for the hub. Crowder said she is worried that because some African Americans “have had less exposure to large dollar amounts,” there is a risk that reparations money would not have enough impact on the community as a whole.