Panel in California, a Free State Since Birth, Recommends Reparations, Apology for Slavery

Reparations California (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

A panel set up by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in 2020 approved recommendations Saturday in Oakland for reparations for slavery and an apology, even though the state entered the Union as a free state in 1850.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

California’s Reparations Task Force voted on Saturday to recommend that the state issue a formal apology for slavery and potentially provide billions of dollars in cash payments, moving forward a historic effort to enact remedies and compensation for descendants of African Americans who were enslaved in the U.S.

The vote at a public meeting in Oakland marks the beginning of the end of the nine-member panel’s two-year process to craft a report recommending reparations for slavery, which is due to the state Legislature by July 1.

The panel argued that California must apologize for slavery because it had racist governors and enforced the federal fugitive slave law, requiring escaped slaves to be returned to their purported owners in the South.

The task force was established under a law passed in the wake of the George Floyd riots and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. It is made up primarily of black members and not demographically representative of the state’s population. The panel also considered post-slavery discrimination and harms to black people, such as “mass incarceration” under the state’s formerly tough crime laws (which have since been reformed).

The panel calculated that each black resident of the state is potentially owed $1.2 million in compensation, based on disparities in life expectancy, and estimates of the cost of over-policing and housing discrimination.

It is unclear how the state will afford the staggering cost — which is several times the state budget — after it crashed from a $100 billion surplus last year to more than a $22.5 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year.

The panel also recommended other policy changes, such as repealing Proposition 209, a referendum passed in 1996 that bans affirmative action by the state government. Voters defended the measure as recently as 2020.

The legislature will consider the recommendations before voting on them. The process has received so much media attention that there will be extreme pressure to act, despite considerations of affordability and efficacy.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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