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Some Black Californians Might Get $1.2M in Reparations

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The San Francisco Chronicle reported that an eligible Black resident who lived a lifetime in California and is 71 or older could, in theory, receive as much as $1.2 million in reparations for slavery.

The California Reparations Task Force released estimates, as well as breakdowns of the methodology used to determine the amounts, on Monday before a critical vote this week, The Hill reported.

If approved, the task force would urge that the money begin to be disbursed in the form of “down payments,” according to CalMatters

The California Reparations Task Force was established in September 2020 after passage of State Assembly Bill 3121, which cleared the way for the state to evaluate the financial impact of slavery on Black residents and determine the best means to repay them — more than 150 years after slavery ended.

The task force documents discuss two kinds of reparations: those arising from particular instances of discrimination or harm that require an individual to file a claim, and those that involve distributing money or benefits to all eligible Black Californians for racial harm the entire community experienced. 

Economists advised the task force and were asked to estimate the total financial losses suffered by Black Californians affected by slavery and institutional racism.

A new state agency would need to be established to distribute funds and determine eligibility, CalMatters reported. That agency would also help Black Californians trace their lineage to confirm that they are eligible for the payments.

Those who qualify could receive various payments to compensate for the alleged injustices of “over-policing” of Black communities, discrimination in housing, and inequity in the healthcare system, according to CalMatters.

Each of those categories includes a maximum payment based on specific time frames; a Black Californian who lived in the state between 1971 and 2020 could receive as much as $2,352 per year due to “over-policing.”

For mass incarceration and the “over-policing” of Black communities, it estimates a loss per person of $115,260, or $2,352 for each year lived in California from 1971 to 2020, corresponding to the national war on drugs.

For housing discrimination, it offers two methods of loss calculation: One based on gaps between Black and white “housing wealth” would peg losses at $145,847 per person. The other, based on governments’ “redlining” history, including discriminatory lending and zoning, would calculate Black residents’ losses at $148,099 per person — or $3,366 for each year they lived in California from 1933 to 1977.

For injustices and discrimination in health, it estimates $13,619 per person for each year lived in California, or $966,921 total for someone living about 71 years — the average life expectancy of Black residents in California in 2021. 

Additionally, the task force may also recommend for the State of California to formally apologize for slavery, as well as state laws and actions that members say actively discriminated against Black residents, including enforcement of the federal fugitive slave law, prohibition of interracial marriage, the construction of monuments that glorify the Confederacy, as well as open segregation and discrimination in the arts.

The task force will meet Saturday at Mills College in Oakland to vote on the proposals. A formal proposal would be drafted and eventually sent to the California legislature for a vote.

The state-appointed task force faces a July 1 deadline to make reparations recommendations to the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Task force leaders have said they expect the Legislature to come up with actual reparations amounts.

The proposals would likely face strong opposition from Republican lawmakers, and some moderate Democrats, according to the Chronicle.

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