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'California Owes Black Residents $1.2 Million Each in Reparations'

Even though California was a free state when it joined the Union in 1850, the official reparations task group has said that each of the state's black residents is owed $1.2 million because of slavery.

The committee was made official when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed it into law in 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter fear. Last year, the committee put out an interim report that supported reparations and suggested separate schools for black people, among other ideas. Even though it narrowly decided that only black residents whose ancestors were slaves in the South should be qualified for reparations, it has decided that all black residents continue to suffer.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Economists advising California’s task force on reparations have, at long last, released an estimate of the damages caused by the state’s history of slavery and its many vestiges of white supremacy: up to $1.2 million per Black resident over a lifetime.

Lawmakers and Newsom created the task force in 2020 and directed its members to study the history of slavery in California and its enduring inequities for Black people. While the Golden State was admitted to the Union as a “free state” in 1850, historians say slavery continued to be openly practiced for years by white Southerners, who brought enslaved people to the state and forced them to work in gold mines and on plantations.

The economists who advised the panel, which is almost entirely composed of black members, said that their estimate was “conservative,” though they said it was not a recommendation on the final compensation amount.

Reparations California (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Morris Griffin holds up a sign during a meeting by the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The number is said to include not only the damage caused by slavery, as bad as it was, but also "mass incarceration," housing discrimination, and health risks that are worse for black residents.

It's not clear how California would be able to pay the described compensation. One estimate puts the cost at $800 billion, which is a lot more than the state's yearly budget. The head of the task group has backed a "wealth tax."

There are also other groups working on making amends. A group in the City of San Francisco is thinking about a plan to give each long-time black citizen $5 million. It is not clear where the money for this would come from, though.

Several other places, like Evanston, Illinois, have thought about compensation and some have even given them out. All of these places are in states that banned slavery. Many people want to show the rest of the country what to do.

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