A California state senator is speaking out on the backlash over possible cash reparations.
“If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt. This is a debt that is owed to those descendants of slaves and to their ancestors,” California State Senator Steven Bradford, a member of the California Reparations Task Force, told NPR recently.
The historic California Reparations Task Force recently wrapped up its study on possible reparations for Native Black Americans in the state. The first of its kind in the nation, the task force pondered the issues of cash reparations and suggested a system of possible payments to the descendants of slaves. In June, the task force recommended compensating qualifying Black residents up to $1 million in cash payments from the state, along with other benefits such as eliminating child support debt and free tuition to public colleges, Fox News reported.
Critics of the proposals, which will have to be approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, expressed concern about the financial strain cash reparations would put on the state’s budget.
However, Bradford said a debt must be paid to Black Americans.
“If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt. This is a debt that is owed to those descendants of slaves and to their ancestors,” Bradford told NPR.
Bradford backed up his statement by pointing out that Black Californians were affected by the state’s history of upholding the institution through its fugitive slave law.
Under the California Fugitive Slave Act of 1852, Black people who had escaped slavery were at risk of being forcibly deported back to slaveholding states in the South, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
Bradford also argued that many of today’s wealthy were reaping the benefits of work done by enslaved Black Americans for their ancestors.
Despite his support for cash reparations, Bradford seems skeptical that they would be delivered and advised African American state residents not to get their hopes up on massive individual reparations payments, Fox News reported.
“Again, many of the folks who are living in luxury and opulence today weren’t alive when their land baron grandparents and great-great-great-parents were enslaving Black folks to do the work in order to acquire their wealth. So I think it’s a no-brainer here for me,” he said.
“I would not focus on the cash payments, but all those other things – health care, free tuition, homebuyers assistance, tax breaks – all those can be easily provided to descendants of slaves,” he added. The Democrat recommended the state give eligible Black residents benefits in the same way veterans receive benefits for education or training.
In this April 23, 2019 photo, Democratic state State Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Compton, speaks during a hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)