California has implemented a new employee form that recognizes the lineage of Black Americans, allowing employees to self-identify as descendants of those who were enslaved in the U.S. This a move forward for the reparations movement, say reparations advocates.
California, which recently completed the country’s first even reparations task force study, has taken a step toward acknowledging the historical and systemic discrimination faced by Black Americans who descended from slaves. The state has introduced a new employee form titled the “State Employee Race/Ethnicity Questionnaire,” which provides options for employees to self-identify their race/ethnicity, including a category specifically designed for descendants of enslaved individuals in the U.S.
The form, officially released by the California Department of Human Resources, asks new and rehired employees to voluntarily choose their racial or ethnic identification. Among the available options, the form includes a distinction for “BLACK or AFRICAN AMERICAN,” with two subcategories: “A descendant of a person or persons who were enslaved in the United States (Y)” or “Not a descendant of a person or persons who were enslaved in the United States, including, but not limited to, African Black, Caribbean Black, or other Black (N).”
Additionally, the form offers an option for individuals who prefer not to identify their descendant status, giving them the choice to select “Descendant status is unknown or choose not to identify.”
This innovative approach aims to recognize the unique experiences and challenges faced by Lineage-Based Black Americans, who are descendants of those who endured the horrors of slavery in this country. Basically, by providing a distinct category for these individuals, California is acknowledging the historical and generational impact of slavery on this community.
The move has received praise from various quarters, particularly among Lineage-Based Black Americans who have long advocated for greater recognition of their distinct heritage and experiences. If reparations are indeed issued by the state, this documentation might help the process even though other documentation will probably be necessary.
Photo: State Employee Race/Ethnicity Questionnaire, https://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/calhr-1070.pdf