The task force, established in 2020 by the state government amid the riots surrounding the death of George Floyd, was tasked with coming up with recommendations for the official issuing of reparations to black Americans. Though its final report is due on July 1, the group has publicly announced prototypes of the recommendations. The reparation figure was $223,329 for each eligible black person, but it was raised to $360,000 per person in early March.
Task force member Lisa Holder’s statement that Californians should prepare themselves for the group’s “breathtaking” recommendations is a sign that that figure is likely to increase even further by July 1.
“It’s important that Californians understand that in order to match the scale of America’s greatest injustice, we must be prepared for remedies on a scale approaching the Great Society programs of Medicare and Medicaid,” she wrote in an opinion piece for Cal Matters.
Aside from the monetary aspect, Holder framed the program as a revolutionary project aiming to change the fabric of society.
“Reparations will include programs that disrupt racism within our major institutions. These programs will be in housing, criminal-legal systems, education, health and medicine, and financial wealth and asset-building infrastructure. Fixing systemic racism and rehabilitating institutions will require major changes to these sectors,” she wrote.
She added that reparations will “likely include monetary compensation,” noting it would not only be for the descendants of slaves but “persecuted black Americans” as well. She described the monetary aspect as a “critical component” of reparations.
Holder also dismissed the notion that California was added to the union as a free state and claimed its wealth came from anti-black policies.
“The task force delivered a 500-page interim report establishing that California was, in practice, a pro-slavery state, a Jim Crow state and a post-civil rights apartheid state,” she claimed. “It’s appropriate that California became the first state to convene a reparations task force because the real story is that the wealthiest state in the union and the fifth-largest economy in the world was one of the principal purveyors and beneficiaries of anti-Black policies and narratives.”
“With specific and tangible reparations initiatives, California is on the brink of a historic and seismic shift towards finally delivering justice for Black Americans. The task force recommendations will be breathtaking. They must be nothing less,” she concluded.
The last public proposal, calling for $360,000 per eligible black resident, was estimated to cost California over $640 billion. The state is set to have a budget deficit of $22.5 billion in the next fiscal year. The final proposal will likely include other caveats that will send the true total much higher. Those include debt forgiveness and subsidized housing, recommended by the separate San Francisco Reparations Task Force, which demanded $5 million per eligible black resident.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) may face pressure from his progressive base to implement the suggestions, even if the state legislature votes against it.