A state-sponsored reparations task force in California has estimated black residents are entitled to $223,000 each to compensate for historical racism and slavery.
The package, to be paid by bankrupt taxpayers who never owned slaves to people who were never enslaved, is estimated to cost upwards of half a trillion dollars. Just part of the “housing discrimination” reparations are estimated to cost around $569 billion, according to The New York Times on Thursday — and that’s only one of five areas “identified” by the task force for consideration. By comparison, California’s 2022-2023 state budget was $307.9 billion — just more than half of that figure. It’s unclear how the state, which already faces multibillion-dollar deficits, plans to drain the money from already heavily-burdened taxpayers.
“We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction,” Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told the paper.
Eligibility for the payments will extend to descendants of African Americans who were enslaved or to any “free black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.”
“Nearly 6.5 percent of California residents, roughly 2.5 million, identify as black or African American,” the Times reported. “The panel is now considering how reparations should be distributed — some favor tuition and housing grants while others want direct cash payments.”
The nine-member task force was created by legislation signed by Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. The panel is expected to release its final report to state lawmakers in Sacramento by the end of next year.
In March last year, Evanston, Illinois joined Asheville, North Carolina to pass reparations for black residents over slavery, an institution the U.S. eradicated more than 150 years ago.
While the details of Asheville’s reparations program are pending a report from a city commission, leaders in Evanston voted to distribute $400,000 among eligible black residents who can prove discrimination and local ancestry between the years of 1919 and 1969.
Reparations for slavery became a mainstream issue in the Democrat Party during the 2020 presidential primaries. Last year, legislation to establish a congressional commission to study reparations for descendants of enslaved African Americans passed the House Judiciary Committee for the first time. The bill was proposed by Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee after being introduced for decades by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Jr., who retired in 2017 and died in 2019.