Economists hired by the California Reparations Task Force have come up with an estimated compensation recommendation of around $569 billion or $223,200 per person, and that’s just for housing discrimination — one of five areas in discussions for compensation.
In addition to housing discrimination, the task force, created by legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, is discussing compensation for mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of Black businesses and health care.
“We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction,” said task force member Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, according to a New York Times article.
The task force is scheduled to release a report to California lawmakers in 2023 outlining recommendations for state-level reparations.
The persistent U.S. wealth gap means the median wealth of Black households is $24,100 — 7.8 times less than the average $189,100 for white households, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.
The task force estimated that a compensation recommendation of around $569 billion or $223,200 per person was based on Black Californians’ experiences as a result of discriminatory policies in place between 1933 and 1977. The task force estimated that the policies cost black residents $5,074 per year.
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The California Reparations Task Force decided in March that Californians eligible for reparations would be descendants of enslaved African Americans or of a “free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.” Nearly 6.5 percent of California residents — about 2.5 million — identify as Black or African American. The panel is now considering how reparations should be distributed — some favor tuition and housing grants. Others want direct cash payments, New York Times reported.
Some reparations proponents believe that reparations undertaken at the local or state are not pure reparations and remove focus and pressure off the federal government.
Economist, wealth inequality expert and Duke University Professor Dr. William “Sandy” Darity has said he doesn’t support state, local or personal reparations. According to Darity, providing reparations at those levels harms national efforts to obtain “pure reparations.”
“If people devoted the time and energy to pushing #purereparations at the national level as they do to piecemeal (state, local, personal) ‘reparations,’ they’d be surprised at how much progress could be made. Piecemeal ‘reparations’ is tantamount to surrender on a national plan,” Darity tweeted on Aug. 1, 2022.