California Reparations Panel Recommends Billions in Payments to Black Residents

California Reparations Panel meeting on Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Credit: YouTube/ California Department of Justice)

California’s reparations task force has issued its recommendations on how to compensate the state’s Black residents for generations of discrimination.

The nine-member panel met in Oakland on Saturday to give the final approval of a list of recommendations for reparations to the descendants of slaves or free Black people living in the U.S. prior to the end of the 19th century.

Although a final dollar amount has not been determined, some estimates from economists have projected the state could owe upwards of $800 billion in reparations payments, according to The Associated Press.

After working with economic experts, the task force suggested the state legislature measure the period of harm through the following five categories, as listed in the task force agenda:

  1. Health Harms: 1850 – present
  2. Housing Discrimination: 1933-1977 or 1850 – present
  3. Mass Incarceration & Over-policing: 1971 – present
  4. Unjust Property Takings: 1850 – present
  5. Devaluation of African American Businesses: 1850 – present

“Since this list of harms and atrocities is not exhaustive, the total of the estimated losses to African Americans is not a final estimate of all losses. Rather, it is a very cautious initial assessment for what cost, at a minimum, the State of California is responsible. Further data collection and research would be required to augment these initial estimates,” the task force said in the agenda.

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Recipients of the state reparations must be California residents for at least six months to qualify. There will also be no time limit on when an affected individual or their heirs can submit claims for compensation.

The task force also approved a public apology from the state that would be issued in front of the descendants of enslaved people.

Now that the task force has approved these recommendations, the next step would be bringing it to the state legislature and governor for approval.

The reparations would be in the form of cash or the equivalent, as recommended by the task force.

The panel also recommended having the state legislature give a “down payment” to eligible recipients “given that the process of calculating the amount of some of the losses and determining the methods and structure for issuing payments could involve a lengthy process.”

California is currently experiencing a budget deficit, so the likelihood of the state legislature and Gov. Gavin News signing off on reparations payments is uncertain.

Newsom established the task force in 2020 to study the harms of slavery and discrimination.