LOS ANGELES—Recent reports that California is going to pay its Black citizens over $559 billion for reparations are false, according to “The California Reparations Task Force To Study and Develop Reparation Proposals For African Americans,” (Reparations Task Force).
The California Assembly Bill 3121 established the Reparations Task Force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans around housing discrimination. They are to recommend appropriate ways to educate the California public about the task force’s findings; and to recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of its findings. There is no claims process, according to an official statement received by The Final Call.
Any reparations program will need to be enacted by the State Legislature and approved by the governor. The $559 billion figure represents the State of California’s “maximum liability” for de jure (rightful entitlement or claim) homeownership discrimination, according to the Reparations Task Force’s economic consultant team.
“The $559 billion is accurate, but somebody just took it upon themselves to break it down into smaller numbers and spun the narrative on that,” said Antonio Harvey, who has been covering the issue for California Black Media, which advocates for independent Black news publishers, multimedia platforms and broadcasters in the state.
Eligible would be all Black California descendants of people enslaved in the United States who lived in the state between 1933 and 1977 (or their legal heirs), according to the Reparations Task Force. Their calculations are based on harms inflicted by the taking property unjustly through eminent domain, devaluation of Black businesses, housing discrimination and houselessness (homelessness), disproportionate Black mass incarceration and over-policing, and health,
General Census statistics cited by the Reparations Task Force indicate that California went from a “high of 7.7 percent Blacks in 1980 to 5.5 percent Blacks in 2018.” Further, in the past three decades, the more expensive coastal cities have lost 275,000 Black residents.
The communication with the community, making them aware of the task force meetings has been a disaster, said Mr. Harvey. He told The Final Call he is not satisfied with the way the process has been handled by the California Justice Department. Communications have to be out front because there are two million Black people here and only a fraction is aware of what is really happening and could be left out, whatever the decision is, he argued.
Task force meetings began in June 2021 and will continue through next year. Members of the appointed task force are: Chair, Kamilah Moore, a reparatory justice scholar and attorney; Vice-chair Dr. Amos C. Brown, a pastor and president of the San Francisco Branch of the NAACP; State Senator Steven Bradford; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a clinical psychologist;
Lisa Holder, a civil rights attorney; Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, an economic anthropologist and geographer; San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe and Donald K. Tamaki, co-founder of StopRepeatingHistory.Org.
Thus far, public comments have been eloquent, insightful and thoughtful, because a lot of people come with pain, said Mr. Harvey.
“They’re talking about what their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmother’s had been going through. People are dealing with homelessness, jobs, and housing discrimination and things like that, but they’re not forgetting the main purpose of how we got here, and that was through generational families and backgrounds,” explained the long-time journalist.
During the most recent task force meeting, one woman stood for the matriarchs of her family who lived in Bay View Hunters Point, near the radiated Naval shipyard.
Her mother, both of her grandmothers, her aunt, and her sister all died of cancer, she said, during the California Reparations Task Force’s December 15 meeting.
Another young man spoke about the national, state-sanctioned terror heaped upon Black men and women in slavery and in Black life today. For 400 years, they have prevented Black people from building the same wealth and political influence as White Americans and stripped them from everything they had, and for those reasons alone, reparations must be paid, he said. “I don’t even have my own last name,” he added.
“America owes us the whole [expletive] country,” said another man, who donned a red fez. “We’re asking that you give us reparations because America is number one on God’s list to be destroyed,” he stated. “If you don’t accommodate us, and you don’t assist us, just watch what our God is going to do to America for what he has done to us and still doing,” he continued.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, during a riveting message on what America owes to Black people, broke down what the country must do to atone and repair the damage it has inflicted on the descendants of enslaved people. His message, “Add It Up!” was delivered on April 28, 1990, in the eighth installment of the revolutionary “Stop the Killing” tour before over 20,000 at the Omni Convention Center in Atlanta.
Minister Farrakhan outlined the greatest historical justifications for reparations due to the Black man and woman in America to repair the damage of 310 years of chattel slavery and over 100 years of involuntary servitude. His observation, warning and guidance is just as relevant today.
“America, you owe us something. We don’t want you to dole it out in welfare checks. If you give us what you owe us, we’ll take it from there. But will America do that? We don’t know,” stated Minister Farrakhan.
The Minister pointed out that America approved compensation to be paid to the Japanese after detaining thousands of them in internment camps during World War II and confiscating their property. Other groups wronged have also been compensated, he stated.
“Now, let’s add up what they owe us. … Let’s start in Africa. According to the late, great scholar W.E.B. DuBois, a conservative estimate of Black lives lost in the Middle Passage was from 50 to 100 million Black lives. We don’t need to minimize the Jewish Holocaust. Six million lives is a lot of lives, but are you telling me that six million White lives are more valuable than 100 million Black lives? You can’t be saying that. For the Bible says ‘a life for a life!’ said Minister Farrakhan.
“Well, if 100 million of us lost our lives in the Middle Passage, add it up. What is one Black life worth? Three hundred years working from ‘can’t see morning to can’t see night,’ for no pay. Three hundred years working millions of slaves for nothing. Add it up! Add it up! Add it up!”
In God’s view, the present generation of Whites did not commit the atrocities and are innocent of what their grandfathers did, but they are in a privileged position because of what their fathers did; and Black people are in a hell of a condition because of what their fathers did, continued Minister Farrakhan.
If the present generation of Whites wants to escape what is justly due, then they’ve got to do the right thing. They’ve got to do justice by the Black man, the Minister continued.
“Now what does justice look like? If you add it up, if you add it up White folks, you are going to have to give us the whole country. Add it up, White man. The whole thing belongs to the oppressed if you add it up. We’re not asking for the whole thing, but we do deserve the whole thing.
Just give us some of it and let us go, to build a nation for ourselves. Since you don’t want us, don’t keep us here and kill us. Let us go and let us build a new reality in the name of God. Let us build for God,” said Minister Farrakhan.
—Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent