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4 Mar, 2023 15:53

US state proposes $360k per person in slavery reparations

California’s plan to pay 1.8 million black descendants of slaves living in the state could cost $640 billion
US state proposes $360k per person in slavery reparations

A California task force studying reparations for black Americans descended from slaves wants the state’s taxpayers to shell out $360,000 for every affected individual, it revealed on Friday ahead of the group’s two-day meeting in Sacramento. Along with community reparations for the state’s history of housing discrimination, the payouts could cost California as much as $640 billion.  

The Reparations Task Force did not offer any suggestions before the meeting on how the state might come up with more than half a trillion dollars, though it did explain that the $640 billion figure was the result of a model that took into account damages from housing discrimination, mass incarceration, and healthcare disadvantages.  

The group has not yet decided whether the payments will go directly to qualified black Californians or be invested in education, healthcare, and homeownership for black communities in the state. About 1.8 million black Americans currently call California home, and the exact qualifications to receive reparations, beyond US citizenship and an enslaved ancestor, remain undecided.

Friday’s per-capita figure represents an increase of more than 50% from the task force’s December proposal of $220,000 for each qualifying member of the state’s historically disadvantaged black population. California Governor Gavin Newsom formed the task force in 2020, heralding it as the largest reparations effort since Reconstruction.  

However, California is currently facing a $22.5 billion budget deficit despite running a $100 billion surplus in 2022, forcing Newsom to consider deep cuts to his signature progressive policies. 

The task force’s preliminary report from last year explained that centuries of discriminatory policies –  including more than 100 years in the ostensibly free state of California – have left black Americans in poorer physical, mental, and especially financial condition, segregated in less desirable neighborhoods, receiving a worse education and paid less for more precarious jobs, and suffering greater abuse by authorities than their white counterparts. Black families had just one ninth the assets of white families, the report claimed. 

The task force listed over 100 ways the state could make amends for this litany of injustices, among which are banning for-profit prison companies, redrawing electoral district lines to “prevent dilution of the black vote,” ending the abuse of the foster care system in breaking up families, and compensating those harmed by medical experimentation programs.

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