California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a noncommittal response to the recommendation of a government task force that suggested reparations of up to $1.2 million of taxpayer money to the state’s black residents.
“The Reparations Task Force’s independent findings and recommendations are a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing,” Newsom said in a statement to Fox. “This has been an important process, and we should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery and understand how that history has shaped our country.”
However, while acknowledging the task force’s work, he declined to overtly endorse its monetary recommendations.
“Dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments,” he continued. “Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing … all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond. This work must continue.”
“Following the Task Force’s submission of its final report this summer, I look forward to a continued partnership with the Legislature to advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians,” Newsom concluded.
The nine-member Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans was established in 2020 by the California Legislature and charged with developing a comprehensive plan to remedy the alleged lingering impact of slavery and racism.
Gov. Newsom appointed five members of the task force; two were appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, and two by the Speaker of the Assembly.
In June 2022, the task force released a nearly 500-page interim report proposing to answer the question, “What does California owe its Black residents?”
The task force claimed, “Four hundred years of discrimination has resulted in an enormous and persistent wealth gap between Black and white Americans … and continuous and compounding harm on the health of African Americans.”
Therefore, the task force recommended many actions, including that California “implement a detailed program of reparations for African Americans.” It also urged the creation of an “African American/Freedmen Affairs Agency tasked with implementing the recommendations of this task force.”
Most recently, the task force recommended a system for distributing financial reparations to black Californians, which could see some black residents qualify for up to $1.2 million in taxpayer money depending on how they were impacted and how long they have lived in the state.
The group claimed the homeownership wealth gap between black and white Californians represented an estimated $145,847 in harm per black resident. Similarly, it said black Californians could have suffered up to $148,099 in harm for redlining policies, $77,000 per person for black business devaluation, and $35,742 per year for unequal employment and payment practices.
These calculations did not include reparation for “unjust property takings,” which the task force said “must be cataloged and studied … to provide a full calculation of harm” before a dollar amount could be assigned.
In total, such a proposal would carry a price tag of more than $800 billion in taxpayer funds.
Beyond the state’s efforts, the City of San Francisco has received a proposal from the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee that recommended a “one-time, lump sum payment of $5 million to each eligible person,” in addition to other financial benefits.
However, California’s push for reparations has been denounced by several prominent African American political leaders.
Lavern Spicer, former Republican candidate for Congress out of Florida, tweeted that the idea was “BULLS**T,” claiming, “This whole thing is just the Democrats stirring up more race hatred to start more race riots.”
“If you give one Black person free money you got to give ALL OF US free money!” she continued. “AND WHERE IS THE MONEY GONNA COME FROM?”
“CALIFORNIA WILL NEVER DO THIS BECAUSE IT SETS A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT FOR A DEMOCRACY LIKE OURS. THIS IS AMERICA AND NO ONE DESERVES REPARATIONS, BECAUSE REPARATIONS IS BACKDOOR SOCIALISM,” Spicer said.
On the other hand, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) celebrated the task force’s recommendations, saying, “Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long-standing racial disparities and inequalities,” per Fox.
However, civil rights activist Leo Terrell replied to Rep. Lee, asking, “How much money has racist America paid YOU as a member of Congress?” He also denounced the activists as “IDIOTS,” tweeting that the proposal “Will never become LAW.”
Similarly, political commentator Larry Elder asked, “If a non-black person in California identifies as African-American can he/she/they receive the state’s proposed reparation of up to $1.2 million?”
“Asking for a friend,” he added while tweeting a picture of an article discussing how Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, self-identified as black and even acted as the head of a local NAACP chapter.
The task force has until July 1 to make a final recommendation to the California Legislature.