California is leading the nation on tangible reparations legislation for Black Americans. Its historic task force has been at work for over a year studying and developing reparations proposals to remedy the harms caused to descendants of the enslaved by systemic racism and oppression.
As the task force gets closer to submitting its recommendations, some Black Californians of various age groups went on record to MarketWatch about how they would use reparations money.
Keisha Brown is a 49-year-old wife and mother of five who resides in the Bay Area. She told MarketWatch she and her family are struggling even though both she and her husband work.
“Of course [reparations] would mean better for our children,” Brown said. “It would secure some stability, and we could have something to leave our kids. They won’t have to be robbing Peter to pay Paul like we’ve had to.”
Zion Harris, 22, is a choreographer and dancer based in Los Angeles who is currently on tour with Daddy Yankee, but business is not always as steady. According to MarketWatch, he made $60,000 last year.
With the rising cost of living in California and inflation, Harris says reparations “would help jump-start more of what I’m trying to do in my career” and give him some financial security while he focuses on building his resume.
Bay Area resident Dante King, 46, is an educator and author who teaches African American studies at the University of California-San Francisco and a course at the Mayo Clinic.
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Receiving reparations “could be a game changer for people like myself who still suffer from being discriminated against,” King said. “This could change the lives of so many people I know — the previous four or five generations, the discrimination they faced even after slavery set them up to be in the predicament they’re in.”
King said he would use his reparations money to pay off his student loan debt and buy another house because he is no longer a homeowner. He would also like to leave his nephew an inheritance.
Gigi Crowder, 60, is the executive director of the Contra Costa County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She told MarketWatch she would use reparations to pay the debt she took out to pay for the college education of her two sons and leave her future grandchildren an inheritance.
Because Crowder says Black people “have had less exposure to large dollar amounts,” she thinks reparations won’t close the wealth gap without proper financial education and parameters.
“Some guidelines about how to use the money to make sure you have generational wealth would be good,” Crowder said. “Whatever dollars come to us, how do we build from it?”
“I’ve known people who’ve talked themselves out of applying for PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans or who lost their homes even when they could’ve kept it,” Crowder continued.
Approximately 1.8 billion Black Californians fit the lineage-based criteria the task force has established for reparations in the state.
Task force chair Kamilah Moore said she plans to speak with the task force about how the state can assist individuals who need to prove their eligibility.
“The standard is settled, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need refinement,” Moore said.
PHOTO: In this June 15, 2018, file photo, cash is fanned out from a wallet in North Andover, Mass. Employee benefits are one of the most attractive things about a prospective job and can determine whether you take an opportunity or leave it. When you do decide to take the job, do you maximize the benefits? (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)