Black Californian families have been waiting decades for reparations due to the disgraceful racism from lawmakers, and now they have their wish. Still, the lack of cash payments has already sparked disagreement.
Groundbreaking Reparations in California
California lawmakers made history by introducing the nation’s first set of reparations bills, but they won’t require any financial settlements.
Generational Impact of Atrocities
The reports say that the “atrocities in nearly every sector of civil society” contributed to today’s racial wealth gap.
Atrocities Spark Reparations
Atrocities, including “segregation, racial terror,” and “harmful racist neglect,” have now led to the “first step” of reparations being made.
Retribution for Discriminatory Laws
The CLBC plans to introduce a bill requesting a formal apology from California’s governor and legislature for “how laws in California were crafted to directly cause harm to its Black residents.”
Limitations on Cash Payments
The decision to limit cash payments has come under scrutiny from many, with Erika D. Smith of the LA Times calling it “one of the most half-baked packages of bills that I’ve ever seen.”
A Powerful Question
In a powerful online post, Smith continued by asking, “I hope this gets better. It HAS to get better, right?”
A Complex History of Black Californians
During the 19th-century Gold Rush, Black individuals, both enslaved and free, sought opportunities in California.
After WWII, the Great Migration led to a surge in California’s Black population as individuals sought better opportunities on the West Coast.
Black residents in California faced second-class citizenship and discrimination for years to come, with many families now seeking reparations in the form of cash, but not this time.
More Than Just the Money
“While many only associate direct cash payments with reparations, the true meaning of the word, to repair, involves much more,” argued Lori Wilson.
Task Force Commissioned by California
California responded to its historical injustices by commissioning a task force to thoroughly examine reparations, exploring costs and possible forms of redress.
California’s Reparations Taskforce
The task force’s 500-page report revealed 170 years of racism against Black residents, with reports of black men saying, “This is worse here than being in a slave state.”
Extensive Task Force Report
The task force’s comprehensive report recommended various steps to address historical wrongs, including apologies and cash handouts.
Ellen Nash on Reparations Importance
Ellen Nash, president of the Black American Political Association of California, argued, “Reparations are so important because it rights the wrong in how we were treated.”
A Sign of Closure
Reparations help create closure for black residents, “In terms of coming here as slaves to this country and how we were treated with the worst of the worst kind of slavery that could happen to an individual,” Nash noted.
Dr. Shirley Weber’s Initiative
Dr. Shirley Weber, the author of the bill that was used to create the task force, Assembly Bill 3121, praised the progress made.
CLBC’s Progress Praised
“I am pleased that the California Legislative Black Caucus has picked up the baton and is moving the state forward in addressing the recommendations delivered to them seven months ago,” she said.
Task Force’s Recommendation for Descendants
The task force recommended financial payments for descendants of enslaved and free Black Californians, which have not been fulfilled.
Historical Precedents for Cash Payments
Japanese Americans received compensation after internment, and black slaveholders were compensated after emancipation, putting the decision under more scrutiny.
Apology for Human Rights Violations
Instead, those affected will have to settle for a formal apology from California’s governor and legislature.
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