In a first of its kind action, California released a long-awaited report Wednesday detailing steps to counteract what it says are historical and ongoing wrongs by the state and nation against Black Americans.
Did one person on Earth expect anything different?
Supporters say the nearly 600-page document sets the stage for an official government apology and educates the public on discrimination against African Americans.
Even when slavery was long over, the report says racist laws and actions created the persistent wealth gap California is now attempting to close.
The state’s task force calls for creating an office to help those who qualify to document their eligibility for financial reparations from California. Proponents call it the Office of African American or American Freedmen Affairs.
Among other recommendations are expanded voter registration and more police accountability. Prison inmates should not be forced to work unless they are paid fair market wages, inmates should be able to vote, and convicted felons should be allowed to serve on juries.
The reparations report calls for creation of a Cabinet-level secretary to manage an African American Affairs agency. The new state body would have branches for civic engagement, education, social services, cultural affairs, and legal affairs.
It would also help trace ancestry to aid Black residents in qualifying for financial reparations. Those will be the focal point and receive the most attention, but details are not ready. A second report is due next year that will reveal specifics on monetary restitution.
Wednesday’s report calls for compensation for people forced out of homes by the state for construction projects. It notes that Blacks comprise 6% of the state’s population but 28% of those imprisoned. Black youths are 36% of state juvenile detainees.
The task force in March controversially voted 5-4 to limit eligibility for reparations to Black Californians who are direct descendants from enslaved ancestors. This is not well received by some.
Many call for payments and benefits to all 2.6 million African Americans in the state. They argue that this “limited” approach will cause fissures in the Black community and that those with “some proximity” to those harms need to be included.
California is not the first to hop on this bandwagon – Evanston, Illinois, last year became the first American city to take up this madness. Some universities are also coughing up for past sins, and more will certainly do the same.