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The debate over reparations in California will be messy

Jul 11, 2023

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The California Reparations Task Force has released its final report after two years of work. It outlines a plan for reparations to Black Americans in California for the state’s participation in slavery and other acts of discrimination. The plan is now in the hands of California legislators to review, edit or dismiss.

Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette says that California does not have clean hands in the oppression of Black people. He predicts a messy debate between lawmakers when reaching their final decision.

It [The Task Force] looked at seven areas: property seized by the state, devaluation of Black businesses, housing discrimination, homelessness, health issues, mass incarceration, and over-policing.

Now the Task Force wants California to make things right. That’s better than continuing the effort by Republicans to photoshop U.S. history in order to get rid of all the blemishes. Recently, the Task Force filed its final report, all 1,075 pages of it. The document addresses right up front California’s complicity in slavery, one of the greatest evils in U.S. history. 

“By participating in these horrors,” it reads, “California further perpetuated the harm that African Americans faced, imbuing racial prejudice throughout society through segregation, public and private discrimination, and unequal dispersal of federal and state funding.” 

Much of the report is centered around accountability. Hey, Republicans, you guys used to preach that sermon, didn’t you? Accountability, sure you did. All through the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the GOP lectured Black folks on how they had to take responsibility for their actions, own up to their mistakes and make restitution when they hurt someone or did something wrong. Well now it’s the Republicans’ turn to do all those things. 

What happens in California and doesn’t stay in California, it spreads across the country. And now here on the left coast, reparations just got real. 

 

California has a nine member reparations Task Force, which became a thing back in September 2020, when, just four months after a black man named George Floyd was murdered by a white Minneapolis Police Officer, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3121. 

 

While California did indeed enter the Union in 1850 as a free state, it still contributed to the enslavement and oppression of black people. For instance, it passed its own version of the Wicked Fugitive Slave law, which required California law enforcement officers to return runaway slaves to their owners. My home state doesn’t have clean hands, and the task force has the receipts. 

 

It looked at seven areas, property seized by the state devaluation of black businesses, housing discrimination, homelessness, health issues, mass incarceration, and over-policing. Now the Task Force wants California to make things right. That’s better than continuing the effort by Republicans to Photoshop U.S. history in order to get rid of all the blemishes. Recently, the task force filled its final report, all 1075 pages of it. The document addresses right up front California’s complicity in slavery, one of the greatest evils in US history. 

 

“By participating in these horrors,” it reads, “California further perpetuated the harm that African Americans faced imbuing racial prejudice throughout society through segregation, public and private discrimination, and unequal dispersal of federal and state funding.” 

 

Much of the report is centered around accountability. Hey, Republicans, you guys used to preach that sermon, didn’t you? Accountability, sure you did. All through the 1970s 80s and 90s. The GOP lectured black folks on how they had to take responsibility for their actions, own up to their mistakes and make restitution when they hurt someone or did something wrong? Well, now Okay, now it’s the Republicans turn to do all those things. 

 

But the eye catching item and all this is still going to be the demand for cold hard cash. The task force recommends payments totaling billions of dollars to black residents of California, perhaps as much as $300,000 per resident. Today, only about 6% of the state’s population is African American. 

 

Now, there will be dialogue and a debate. Both are likely to be divisive, and maybe a tad disrespectful. We can also expect things to get colorful. In filing the report, one taskforce member said it was time for California to pay “its crime bill.” That’s clever. See the guy who wrote the actual crime bill, the 1995 piece of federal legislation that increased funding for police and resulted in the mass incarceration of black folks, all to ease the fears of white folks, that guy now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From there, President Joe Biden portrays himself as more racially enlightened than Republicans. He loves doing that. But his actions don’t always match his words. Although Biden hasn’t had much to say about whether he supports reparations. It’s a safe bet, that quote lunch bucket Joe, who built his career on appealing to the white working class will not become a champion of the concept. Likewise, Newsom, who helped start the California reparations gold rush when he created the state task force back in 2020. Recently signaled in an interview with Fox News digital that he was not thrilled with cash payouts. No surprise there. 

 

See Newsom likely intends to run for president in 2024. If the incumbent who’s also Democrat does not follow through with his own reelection plans, so whatever happens with operations in California, the result will follow Newsom all around the country, scared of losing votes from moderates and independents. He now says that he would prefer non monetary ways of getting right with history. Good luck with that Gavin, you uncorked this bottle, and the genie is out. And guess what the big guy is taking requests. And as far as 6% of California’s population is concerned, I don’t have to tell you what’s on their wish list. After all is said and done. The proponents of reparations will likely walk away empty handed. The concept is divisive, problematic and wildly expensive. I’m sorry, but just because California was built by a rush on gold doesn’t mean the streets are paved with it.

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