SACRAMENTO — San Francisco resident Pia Harris hopes for reparations in her lifetime. But the nonprofit program director is not confident that California lawmakers will turn the recommendations of a first-in-the-nation task force into concrete legislation given pushback from opponents who say slavery was a thing of the past.
It frustrates Harris, 45, that reparations opponents won’t acknowledge that life for Black people did not improve with the abolition of chattel slavery in 1865. Black families have been unable to accumulate wealth through property ownership and higher education. Black boys and teenagers are still told to watch out for law enforcement, and Black businesses struggle to get loans, she said.
“I want them to stop acting like it’s so far removed, and it’s not currently happening,” said Harris of the lingering effects of slavery and discrimination. “I want them to understand that we’re still going through things now as a community. It’s not — it hasn’t been over for us.”
Black Californians have watched closely as the state’s reparations task force forged ahead in a two-year study, finally signing off this month on a hefty list of recommendations that will be submitted to lawmakers. It’s uncertain what lawmakers will do with the proposals, which include payments to descendants of enslaved people and a formal apology from the state.
The Associated Press interviewed a handful of Black advocates and residents who followed the task force’s work — as well as those who have long been engaged in the conversation about reparations. The activists who fought for civil rights in the 1960s and young entrepreneurs echoed a common fear: They hope California’s exploration of reparations does not become another example of the government offering false hope.
Reparations proposals for African Americans date back to 1865, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered that newly freed people be given up to 40 acres of land. That didn’t happen. In recent decades, Democratic lawmakers in Congress have tried to pass legislation to study federal reparations to no avail.
In 2020, California became the first state to approve the creation of a reparations task force — in order to study the state’s role in perpetuating systemic racism and to find ways to atone. Although California entered the union as a “free” state, it did not enact laws guaranteeing African Americans’ freedom, according to a draft report from the task force.
The state faces a projected $31.5 billion budget shortfall, which reduces the possibility of legislative support for some of the task force’s more ambitious recommendations, including direct payments to eligible residents and the creation of a new state agency to help those families research their ancestors and to file claims.
One key lawmaker has already warned residents not to expect large payments.
The task force did not recommend specific payment amounts but estimates from economists say that the state is responsible for more than $500 billion due to decades of overpolicing, mass incarceration and redlining that kept Black families from buying homes in appreciating neighborhoods.
Compensation is an important part of state reparations proposals because Black Americans have “been deprived of a lot of money,” due to discriminatory policies, said Les Robinson, 66, an associate pastor at the Sanctuary Foursquare Church in Santa Clarita.
Democrats have to buy votes...so they give away the taxpayers money and create... Parasites. What the POS Democrat Politician is really saying is: "You are too stupid to be anything in society...but if you vote for me I will give you Free Money" just pull the blue lever (vote Democrat). Those that agree with respirations and beg the loudest...are usually Dope Fiends..or just Lazy. Now if a State, City, or Town, took Money or Land from a black individual (unlawfully) then by "all" means... make it right (but not a Powerball lottery win). There will be exceptions to the rule...there always is..but not no billion dollar payout to any "race". Dems have to keep us divided they are clueless idiots (most not all) and are not that good at doing anything else. Here comes Misery....Biden is at the Helm....I will enjoy seeing what the people Reap.... from what they have Sown. ;)
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