As the California Reparations Task Force gets closer to its one-year deadline of July, there seems to be more pushback on the idea of reparations. Task force chair, attorney Kamilah Moore, blames some of that on misinformation being spread by the mainstream media over proposed amount of cash payouts. Problem is the task force, the first-in-the-nation task force on reparations, has not decided yet on cash amounts if any.
“FYI: All news headlines claiming the California Reparations Task Force is presently urging any specific amount of compensation per Black CA resident is complete misinformation. In fact, the task force has not yet recommended any particular monetary amount, or determined whether…” Moore tweeted on March 15.
The task force, which has already decided to list reparations for Black Californians who can prove slave ancestry, has a deadline of July 1 to deliver its final report of recommendations for ways to resolve historic racial damage done to Black Americans.
The nine-member California reparations task force committee was established to meet the requirements of Assembly Bill AB-3121, which California Secretary of State Shirley Weber authored and introduced in 2020 when she served in the legislature. In 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law, creating the two-year reparations task force. California is the only state to move ahead with a plan and mission to study reparations for the institution of slavery, its legacy, and its harms.
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Moore was elected task force chairwoman at the group’s first meeting on June 1, 2021. An attorney, she has knowledge of domestic and international human rights.
But the task force has not given a specific amount, despite the numbers floating around in the media. At the committee’s most recent meeting of March 4, they did not issue any dollar amount for repair.
“Instead, the task force voted to strengthen the power of a proposed ‘freedmen affairs’ agency it says the state should create to help carry out reparations on behalf of California,” reported Cal Matters.
And it decided it will hold at least one more summit in Sacramento on March 29 and 30 and possibly two more later.
“I think everyone knows that the nation is going to be watching … what we do here,” said task force member Donald K. Tamaki at the meeting.
Task force Chairperson Kamilah Moore said the recent vote was necessary to take into account public comments and expert testimony.
“We have the duty and right to reconsider any decision that we’ve made,” she said.
“No one tells the Native Americans that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is too wonky or bureaucratic or that they don’t deserve it. No one tells our immigrant families and folks that the Office of Immigrant Affairs is too wonky or bureaucratic. So why should that answer be sufficient for the descendants of slaves?” she asked.
There are a lot of dollar amounts being speculated on and suggested to the task force, even though members themselves have not concluded an amount.
Economists William Darity and Kirsten Mullen, who are part of a team of economists and scholars consulting with the task force, wrote in a report, “We view the racial wealth gap as the most robust indicator of the cumulative economic effects of white supremacy in the United States.”
According to Darity and Mullen, the average per-person racial wealth gap at approximately $358,293, which is what would be potentially owed to each Black descendant of an enslaved person who was a resident of California at the time the reparations bill was signed into law in 2020, Cal Matters reported.
An interim report to a task force advisory committee noted the total debt California owes to Black descendants of enslaved people at more than $600 billion.
“If paid to a conservatively estimated 1.8 million Black Californians with an ancestor enslaved in the U.S. (80% of the 2.2 million), the amount required will be $636.7 billion,” the report stated.
Screenshot of Kamilah Moore from KCRA, June 2022, https://www.kcra.com/article/qanda-california-reparations-task-force-chair-kamilah-moore-on-states-legacy-of-racism/40191014#