On Saturday, a California reparations task force approved a package that, if passed by the legislature, would cost $800 billion, or nearly three times the state’s annual budget.
Although the new proposal did not state the size of the payments, an earlier version called for eligible blacks in the state to receive cash (or its equivalent) reparation payments of a minimum of $360,000 each to make up for “health harms, housing discrimination, mass incarceration and over-policing, unjust property takings, and devaluation of African-American businesses.”
During the meeting, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) told the group: “Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long standing racial disparities and inequalities.”
Reparations recipients “must be a descendant of enslaved or free Black people who were in the country by the end of the 19th century,” according to the New York Post.
ABC News reported that the task force has researched the “negative impacts of slavery on its descendants” for over two years. In addition to cash compensation, the panel is demanding a formal apology from the state and policy changes to “address various forms of racism.”
The committee’s final set of recommendations have been sent to state legislators for deliberations and a vote that could come as soon as July.
Incredibly, several participants argued that the amounts being discussed were far too small. One attendee, Rev. Tony Pierce, raised the famous Reconstruction-era promise to former slaves of “40 acres and a mule.”
“You know that the numbers should be equivocal to what an acre was back then. We were given 40, OK? We were given 40 acres. You know what that number is. You keep trying to talk about now, yet you research back to slavery and you say nothing about slavery, nothing. So, the equivocal number from the 1860s for 40 acres to today is $200 million for each and every African American,” he said.
Others threatened to withhold their votes for President Joe Biden unless reparations become a reality. One man demanded: “Reparations is [sic] now. Pay the debt. Cut the check. Or, no reparations, no vote in 2024.”
A woman said, “If you are running for office, do not think you are going to win your election if you do not have a concrete plan for reparations.”
She called out, “Biden. Do not seek a second term unless it’s accompanied by an executive order for reparations for descendants of American [inaudible] slavery.”
I think Biden might have a pretty tough time sneaking that one through by executive order. Although I can totally see him promising to pass reparations in his second term. After all, his pledge to forgive student loan debt ahead of the midterms helped lure many young voters to the polls.
As for why the state of California, which joined the country as a free state in 1850, should fork over billions in reparations, the draft recommendation notes that California “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.”
But where will Americans who never owned slaves find the cash to pay Americans who never were slaves? Well, Denver Democratic councilwoman Cande Cdebaca, has an idea. Why not impose a reparations tax on white businesses?
Speaking before the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, Cdebaca said: “Capitalism was built on stolen land, stolen labor and stolen resources. … You could be collecting those taxes from white-led businesses all over the city, and redistributing them to black- and brown-owned businesses.”
What an outrageous proposal. I wonder if any members of the group bothered to inform her that such an act is unconstitutional. And does she realize that the land was originally stolen from Native Americans?
As crazy as these recommendations are, leave it to California lawmakers to pass some version of it.