Many Black residents in California and some reparations advocates, though not all, were excited about the possibility that California could become the first state in the Nation to deliver cash reparations. But the historic effort may get stalled, ironically, by ruling Democrats in the state.
“California is not as liberal as people want us to believe,” state Senator Steven Bradford, vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, told Politico.
Now that the first-in-the-Nation task force has completed its study, reparations for Black Californians face an uphill battle in Democrat-majority state legislature. Some politicians complain the state can not afford cash reparations. Economists estimate the impact of slavery and discrimination at more than $800 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The task force, which was created in 2020, is set to issue a nearly-1,000 page report to California’s legislature later this month after two years of work. California’s task force is expected to suggest measures that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
Now it seems some Democrats are stalling on moving forward.
“I’m not going to sit here and make the promise that everybody’s going to get a check,” said state Sen. Steve Bradford, a Democrat on the task force. “I want people to have a broader view on what reparations could be and a greater acceptance that it might take a little time.”
The excuse by some people in the legislature are using for there lack of urgency is that they are waiting for a signal from Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who would have to sign any policy proposal into law, The Wall Street Journal reported. Newsom last month said reparations were more than just about a monetary payment. His spokesperson later walked that back by saying the governor had not ruled out cash reparations.
According to Newsom spokesman, he is waiting for the final report to be submitted to the legislature on June 29.
While Black Californians comprise 6 percent of the state population, they make up 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness, according to federal data. A Black person in California has a life expectancy of 75.1 years, six years shorter than the state average, according to a 2021 state study on health disparities.
FILE – Pia Harris, with the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, second from left, and her mother, Adrian Williams, listen to speakers at a reparations rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco, March 14, 2023. Harris hopes for reparations in her lifetime. But the nonprofit program director is not confident that California lawmakers will turn the recommendations of a first-in-the-nation task force into concrete legislation, given the pushback from opponents who say slavery was a thing of the past. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)