Posted on June 29, 2023

California’s Reparations Report Excludes Payment Plan but Is Full of Program Proposals

Emi Tuyetnhi Tran and Curtis Bunn, NBC, June 29, 2023

California’s highly anticipated reparations report, released Thursday, outlines how Black Californians can receive monetary compensation for the harms of slavery and systemic racism.

The task force proposed more than 100 statewide policies to address generations of discrimination and racial disparities. Still, the report does not issue a concrete dollar amount owed to individuals “who are able to demonstrate that they are the descendant of either an enslaved African American in the United States, or a free African American living in the United States prior to 1900.”


The document released Thursday, coming in at nearly 1,100 pages, offers a comprehensive look at ways that the United States and California wronged descendants of enslaved Black people through racial terror, political disenfranchisement, unequal housing and educational opportunities, and environmental racism, among other harms. It also offers suggestions for issuing a formal apology and implementing a curriculum based on the task force’s findings.


How much money will the state issue to Black Californians?

The task force, in consultation with economists and policy experts, estimated the minimum dollar amount in harm that California has caused or could have prevented, totals at least $1 million per eligible person.


{snip} The major components of the equation include:

Health Harms

The task force report determined that the difference in life expectancy between Black Americans and white non-Hispanics is due to unequal treatment in the health care system. {snip}

Mass Incarceration and Over-Policing

The report also detailed the detrimental effects of the “War on Drugs” on Black life in California, from 1971 to 2020, which led to mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black communities. {snip}

Therefore, as compensation for excess felony drug arrests and disproportionate prison time, it estimates that Black individuals who lived in California could be owed at least $115,000 {snip}

Housing Discrimination

The report contends that since California’s founding in 1850, state-sanctioned discriminatory housing practices, such as local zoning rules that enforced segregation, have led to Black homeownership being disproportionately lower than their white counterparts.


Unjust Property Takings

The report also mentioned that throughout California’s history, it has employed eminent domain to seize Black-owned properties, destroying Black neighborhoods and watering holes, in order to build highways, cities, and parks. {snip}

Devaluation of Businesses

In addition, discriminatory policies and practices devalued Black-owned businesses and stifled Black entrepreneurial opportunities through lack of access to capital and equity. {snip}


The ball is now in the California Legislature’s court.

The task force provided more than 115 recommendations for “critically needed law and policy reforms” that redress the persistent harms to the Black community from slavery and systemic racism.


“One of the recommendations is to provide free college tuition at public colleges and universities for descendants of slaves,” Moore said Thursday. {snip}