California Secretary Of State Shirley Weber: Reparations Are For Descendants Of Black Slaves Only

California Secretary Of State Shirley Weber: Reparations Are For Descendants Of Black Slaves Only


Photo: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, during a news conference April 3, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who spearheaded the push in California for reparations, said that reparations for African Americans should be limited to people whose ancestors were slaves.

She pointed out that reparations are due only to those whose forebears were kidnapped from their African homeland, stripped of their ancestry, and endured generations of forced labor, AP reported.

Weber, the daughter and granddaughter of sharecroppers, authored California’s reparations legislation that became a first-in-the-nation state task force to agree to study and develop proposals for reparations for slavery.

In June 2021, the reparations bill she wrote was passed by the California Assembly. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on the historic bill in November.

Weber’s great-grandfather was born into slavery, and her family fled Arkansas in the summer of 1951, running from the Ku Klux Klan in the dead of night, she said.

She said she would not have written the legislation if she had known that the pool of recipients would be expanded, leaving mere pennies for the descendants of slaves.

Weber acknowledge that Black immigrants also suffer from racism in the U.S., but she said there is a distinction. Immigrants have the option to return to their native country. Black descendants of slaves had no land they could return to.

Additionally, slavery was more than a physical condition, she pointed out. Its psychological impact affected Black people’s ability to strive beyond survival.

Barack Obama, she said, likely never would have aspired to become president had he descended from enslaved people. While the country’s first Black president did not have slave ancestors, his Black father was from Kenya and came to the U.S. to study. His white mother’s ancestors were slave owners. Obama, Weber said, “did not have limitations and fears drilled in his psyche, and thus aspired to become the president of the United States.”

She said she saw the generational psychological effects of slavery as a child.

“The fear my grandfather felt, I remember as a child, was palpable, and it crippled him and his family’s ability to dream beyond the cotton fields,” Weber said at a Jan. 27 meeting of the task force to study and develop reparations for African Americans. The meeting continues on Jan. 28.

“‘Reparations are not just about past wrongs. It’s not just about history. It’s also about the ways in which historic discrimination and oppression are still manifesting today.’ TY @sdutIdeas CA must & will lead on #reparations…It’s time #AB3121,” Weber tweeted on Jan. 26.

Some on Twitter disagree with Weber and complain that reparations should be for all oppressed people.

“If reparations for #Black community would there be for #NativeAmericans & #Mexicans? Their land was taken & they’ve been subjected to #Discrimination too? Isn’t discriminatory repairing for one #group but not for #other groups? #KamalaHarrisVPSupporters#LatinosForBidenHarris,” tweeted Kamala Harris VP Supporters (@AnaGVillarreal).

Others pointed out that reparations should not be divided up.

“Nope There’s not going to be any shoehorning in on a debt that’s owed ”Specifically’ to the American descendants of Slavery/ #ADOS If other groups have a justice claim , then by all means claim it Otherwise take notes from those who sees the con-job,” tweeted Free Thinker #ADOS (@buttabeans11).


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The nine-member California reparations task force started meeting in July 2021. It has a two-year timeline to address the harms of slavery. While critics charge that California did not have slaves as in other states, others point out that Black people still suffer from systemic racism in California.

For example, African Americans make up just 6 percent of California’s population yet were 30 percent of an estimated 250,000 people experiencing homelessness who sought help in 2020, AP reported.

While Weber said she thinks reparations should be decided on a federal level, it may take too long for this to happen. 

“I think it should start at the federal level, but will it?” Weber told The Los Angeles Times. “The fact that it didn’t doesn’t mean I need to stand here crying for the next 40, 50 years until it starts at the federal level.”

Photo: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, during a news conference April 3, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)