Newsom’s Reparations Committee Will Recommend Handing Out $223,200 per Person to All Descendants of Slaves in California
Neirin Gray Desai and Stephen Lepore, Daily Mail, December 1, 2022
A reparations committee in California has suggested that descendants of slaves in the state could be compensated $223,200 each for ‘housing discrimination’.
The nine-member Reparations Task Force was formed by California Governor Gavin Newsom as part of the country’s largest ever effort to address reparations for slavery.
A focus of the California task force has been ‘housing discrimination’ – it has been estimated that it would cost around $569billion to compensate the 2.5 million Black Californians for setbacks between 1933 and 1977, according to the New York Times.
That is more than California’s $512.8billion expenditure in 2021 – which included funding for schools, hospitals, universities, highways, policing and corrections.
However, discussions are still underway, and the panel is continuing to consider how payments should be made – some suggested tuition and housing grants while others proposed cash.
The task force has also identified four other causes for reparations: Mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of Black businesses and health care.
It has until June 2023 to submit its final recommendations to the Legislature.
Their estimations came after the task force hosted meetings across the state to meet with members of Black communities to better understand the economic impact of slavery.
‘We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction,’ task force member Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at Berkeley, told the Times.
One example of housing discrimination the task force has considered is Russell City, a city that once existed near the San Francisco shoreline and provided refuge to Black families fleeing violence in the Deep South.
The task force was told by people that lived in Russell City, which has since been bulldozed, that the area was replaced with an industrial park and residents were expelled.
One former resident, Monique Henderson-Ford, told the Times she was paid out $2,200 for her home – less than a third of what she bought it for.
‘Imagine if the houses were still here,’ she said. ‘We would all be sitting on a fortune.’
The median wealth of Black households in the US is $24,100, compared with $188,200 for white households, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances, the Times reported.
After a task force meeting in September, Newsom vetoed a bill that would have extended its life.
The bill, which was introduced by Assembly and task force member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would have allowed them to deliberate for an extra year until 2024.
Jones-Sawyer hoped that it would provide time to hear more testimony, but some disliked the idea.
‘[The bill which would extend] is a betrayal of Black Americans,’ said Tiffany Quarles, a member of the audience during one hearing, CalMatters reported. ‘We’ve been waiting for 400 years. We do not need an extension.’
The task force met at the California Science Center in South Los Angeles in September.
In that meeting it spoke about the time frame across which harms should be considered, and whether payments should be made exclusively to Californians.
It also said that it had been consulting with historians on how reparations had been paid in previous circumstances, such as after World War II.
Its next meetings, according to its government website, are scheduled for mid-December.
Earlier this year the task force put together a 500-page document outlining why African Americans that are descendants of 19th century slaves were due ‘comprehensive reparations’.