California is taking a bold step in the fight against systemic racism, with the California Reparations Task Force recommending up to $1.2 million in payments to qualifying Black residents.
The nine–member panel, led by Rep. Barbara Lee, D–Calif., held a public meeting in Oakland, California, on Saturday and voted on a set of recommendations that will be sent to the state‘s legislators.
The task force‘s recommendation includes payments for a variety of historical discriminations, such as redlining by banks, over–policing, and mass incarceration. For example, Black residents affected by redlining by banks could receive up to $148,099, while those affected by over–policing and mass incarceration could receive up to $115,260.
“Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long–standing racial disparities and inequalities,” Lee said after attending the meeting.
The task force‘s recommendation also calls for a formal apology to the state‘s Black residents, in addition to the payments.
Saturday‘s meeting was, however, not without controversy. While most people spoke in support of reparations, some activists demanded larger payments. An activist identified as Rev. Tony Pierce argued that the equivocal number from the 1860s for 40 acres to today is $200 million for each and every African American.
The chaotic, emotionally charged gathering caused sparks to fly throughout the meeting, as arguments broke out and many attendees spoke out of turn and interrupted each other. Moore was forced to call for security to remove people multiple times.
The draft recommendation noted that California entered the Union as a free state in 1850, but said that it did not pass laws at the time to guarantee freedom. The recommendation pointed out that for a decade after emancipation, California continued to allow the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, which called for the capture and return of runaway slaves.
It remains to be seen whether the California legislature will accept the task force‘s recommendation, but it is clear that the state is taking a strong stance on addressing the nation‘s long history of racism and discrimination.