Posted on March 23, 2023

California Slavery Reparations Committee Member Issues Warning to Residents

Stephen Lepore, Daily Mail, March 22, 2023

A member of California’s Reparations Task Force is predicting the group will put out ‘breathtaking proposals’ and end up with an even higher price tag than the $640billion predicted.

In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force and is still struggling to put a price tag on what would be owed.

Lisa Holder, a member of the California Reparations Task Force and president of the Equal Justice Society, is now suggesting when the final plan is revealed, it could see figures higher than the proposed $360,000 per eligible applicant, which already shot up from the original $223,329.

‘With specific and tangible reparations initiatives, California is on the brink of a historic and seismic shift towards finally delivering justice for Black Americans. The task force recommendations will be breathtaking. They must be nothing less,’ she wrote.

Reparations for slavery have been a topic of growing political significance and divisive debate as a number of cities and states pursue their own proposals on the issue.

It wasn’t until George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 that reparations movements began gaining significant traction across the country.

The most recent proposal that was made public suggested it would cost the Golden State over $640billion, according to the Washington Examiner.

‘It’s important that Californians understand that in order to match the scale of America’s greatest injustice, we must be prepared for remedies on a scale approaching the Great Society programs of Medicare and Medicaid,’ Holder said in an op-ed for Cal Matters.

Despite the state’s projected budget deficit of $22.5billion, Holder believes this project needs to shake up a system that she believes has left black people behind.

‘Reparations will include programs that disrupt racism within our major institutions. These programs will be in housing, criminal-legal systems, education, health and medicine, and financial wealth and asset-building infrastructure. Fixing systemic racism and rehabilitating institutions will require major changes to these sectors,’ she wrote.

She argued that monetary compensation may be given out and that eligibility could extend beyond the descendants of slaves.

Holder also noted that California’s admission to the United States as a free state and not a slave state was irrelevant, citing a task force interim report that claimed the state was ‘in practice, a pro-slavery state, a Jim Crow state and a post-civil rights apartheid state.’

The final report and recommendation of the task force will be made on July 1, before the suggestions are voted on by legislature where 94 of the 120 members are Democrats.

The bill would then fall on Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. Newsom formed the task force in 2020.

Meanwhile, individual cities in California and places around the country have begun their own proposals.

San Francisco’s proposals are by far the most wide-ranging, after a city-appointed reparations committee issued more than 100 recommendations, which received an enthusiastic response at a hearing earlier this month.

The proposals include payments of $5 million to every eligible black adult, the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family.

The Board of Supervisors who heard the suggestions can vote to adopt some or all of the recommendations. There is no deadline for the decision, but the board will next take up the issue at a meeting in September.

San Francisco’s draft reparations plan, released in December, is unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth.

The committee hasn’t done an analysis of the cost of the proposals, but critics have slammed the plan as financially ruinous and politically impossible.

An estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which leans conservative, has said it would cost each non-black family in the city at least $600,000.

John Dennis, head of the Republican Party in San Francisco, slammed the proposal as irresponsible because it was impossible to finance.

‘It’s completely unserious and aside from being a massive waste of time, it’s also a complete distraction,’ he told AFP. ‘The city’s (annual) budget is $14 billion. They’re talking about spending $50 billion. It’s preposterous.’

But Amos Brown of the NAACP, a group that campaigns for racial justice, said headline figures were not helpful.

‘Relegating this issue to a fight over $5 million is wrong and dishonest,’ he told AFP.

‘It doesn’t demonstrate all the terror and pain we have suffered. My position is that for all we’ve been through it’s about $5 million plus specific programs’ to bolster economic development, housing, health and education, he said.

Several supervisors said they were surprised to hear pushback even from politically liberal San Franciscans.

‘Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people,’ said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the heavily LGBTQ Castro neighborhood, at this month’s hearing.

‘It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future,’ he added.

A number of cities are also studying potential reparations strategies, including Boston; St. Louis; St. Paul, Minnesota; Asheville, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, the Illinois city of Evanston has been helping residents who suffered from historic racist housing policies. Its grants have paid off a few mortgages, but also stoked divisions between winners and losers.