California lawmakers have unveiled fourteen reparations. None of them ask for cash payments

Suisun City Mayor Lori Wilson met with his colleagues at the State Capitol in Sacramento on August 22, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

California lawmakers have unveiled fourteen reparations. None of them ask for cash payments

California Politics

Taryn Luna

January 31, 2024

The California Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday outlined the first set of reparations for the descendants of African Americans enslaved in the United States, with proposals including a call for the state to issue a formal apology, ban involuntary servitude in prisons and return property seized by governments under race-based eminent domain.

The caucus is not yet calling for cash payments in a list of 14 recovery bills it hopes to pass this year.

a wide range of reforms in education, civil rights, criminal justice, health care and business.

comprehensive reforms in education, civil rights, criminal justice, health care and business.

The legislative package is based on recommendations from California’s Reparations Task Force at the end of a two-year historic process to study the effects of slavery and propose policy changes to state lawmakers.

Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said the apology is the first priority on the list of bills she hopes will start the conversation at the Capitol about reparations as she and her colleagues will start the launch of the law. a campaign to educate the public about the state’s legacy of racism.

The decision to abandon an immediate call for cash payments comes as the government decides to abandon an immediate call for cash payments. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers struggled to offset a budget deficit of at least $37.9 billion. Newsom has proposed dipping into the state’s rainy day reserves, cutting $8.5 billion from climate change initiatives and cutting more than $1.2 billion from housing programs as a means to reduce spending to account for lower-than-expected tax revenue.

“We started to realize through the budget environment that we needed to make more systemic policy changes to address systemic racism versus big budget questions because there just wasn’t the budget for it,” Wilson said. “Our priorities focused on policy changes or creating opportunities.”

Newsom has echoed statements from the task force and Black lawmakers that reparations are more than cash payments. In a recent interview, he said he had finished reading through the task force


at the end of the year and his office is working on a detailed 30-page analysis of the recommendations, which will look at the work the state has already done and what else

they can do.

Is possible.

When asked why his budget did not include reparations proposals, he said he knew the Black Caucus planned to share its own list of priorities and that he did not want to get ahead of the group’s interests.



“So we wanted to get them involved,” Newsom said. “Remember, this was initiated by the Legislature. This is a partnership and they recognize that there are a lot of things in that report that they recommended that we have already done and that we continue to do. This gave us time to assess everything. that. So it has been actively worked on.’

According to recent polls, cash payments in particular are struggling to gain support among California voters. Newsom ignored the idea that reparations could be difficult in an election year.

“That wasn’t part of my thinking,” Newsom said. “My mindset is just the responsibility to be honest and responsible and take the recommendations seriously.”

Wilson described the legislative package as the first phase of a multi-year effort to pass reparations. She said she hopes educating the public about California’s role in slavery and the harm caused by racist policies will help her colleagues and Californians understand that the state must atone.

The list of proposed bills the California Legislature Black Caucus plans to pass this year would do the following:

ACA 7 Amend the California Constitution to allow the state to fund programs for specific groups of people that help increase life expectancy, improve educational outcomes, and lift them out of poverty. ACA 8 Amends the California Constitution to prohibit involuntary servitude for incarcerated people. ACR 135 Formally recognize and accept state responsibility for the harms and atrocities of state representatives who promoted, facilitated, enforced, and permitted slavery. AB 1815 Bans discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles in all competitive sports in California. AB 1929 Offer competitive scholarships to increase enrollment of African American descendants in STEM-related career technical education. AB 1975 Offer medically supportive food and nutrition interventions as permanent Medi-Cal benefits in California. AB 1986 End the California prison system’s practice of banning books without supervision and review.

Proposals the caucus plans to introduce in the next two weeks would focus on:

Provide financial support for career education to redline communities. Restore property taken under race-based eminent domain or provide other remedies to the original owner. Offer a formal apology for human rights violations and crimes against humanity against African slaves and their descendants. Limit solitary confinement in correctional detention centers. Offer state-funded grants to African American communities to reduce violence. Requires notice to community stakeholders prior to the closure of a grocery store in an underserved community. Eliminate barriers to occupational licensing for people with criminal records.


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