According to the Associated Press, the leader of California's reparations task force has stated that the group will not take a position on the amount of compensation that should be paid to black residents who may be owed over $800 billion for decades of allegedly discriminatory practices such as over-policing, disproportionate incarceration, and housing discrimination.
The amount, which is more than 2.5 times the state's $300 billion annual budget, does not include the recommended $1 million per older Black resident for health disparities that have shortened their average life span, the AP noted. Additionally, the figure does not consider compensating people for property allegedly unjustly taken by the government or the alleged devaluing of black businesses, which are two other harms the task force says the state has done.
“All forms of discrimination should be considered in reparations,” Thomas Craemer, a public policy professor at the University of Connecticut, said in testimony before the panel on Wednesday, the AP reported. “The task force should feel free to go beyond our loss estimates and determine what the right amount would be.
Black residents might not obtain cash payments in the near future, or possibly ever, as the decision to pay reparations ultimately lies with the state Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom. The task force is required to submit their recommendations regarding the types of compensation and eligible recipients, as well as additional remedial measures, by the deadline of July 1, the newswire noted further.
On Wednesday, Kamilah Moore, the chair of the panel, said that it is the responsibility of the state Legislature to determine the amount of restitution based on the methodology recommended by economists, which was approved earlier in the day.
“The task force is pretty much done regarding the compensation component. Our task was to create a methodology for calculation for various forms of compensation that correspond with our findings,” she wrote the AP in an e-mail.
During the public comment session on Wednesday, several individuals emphasized the pressing need to compensate black Americans for the damages inflicted upon them more than a century ago (and not by anyone alive today living in the U.S., much less California).
“My family came from the South because they were running for their lives, they were fearful of being lynched, just for voting,” claimed Charlton Curry of Sacramento, who talks about reparations on his Big C Sports podcast (without providing a shred of evidence).
“Cash payments are necessary. Money talks,” he said, adding that white people benefited from the 1862 Homestead Act which granted free U.S. government land, and that reparations were also given to Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II and Jewish Holocaust victims.
Opponents of reparations argue that California was never a slave state, and therefore current taxpayers should not be held responsible for harms that occurred centuries ago.
The AP noted that Bob Woodson, "a prominent Black conservative, calls reparations impractical, controversial and counterproductive."
“No amount of money could ever ‘make right’ the evil of slavery, and it is insulting to suggest that it could,” he noted in an email to the AP, adding that historically, black communities depended on family and faith to build communities that thrived after slavery was made unconstitutional. “Some of these communities only began coming apart after we lost sight of these values, which also hold the key to these communities’ restoration.”
This one issue is sure to divide Americans by race -- probably irreparably -- if it is enacted.