Updated 3/18/23 at 8:00 a.m. E.T.
This is not a drill: San Francisco is taking serious steps towards reparations and the payout could be massive—like $5 million per person massive.
The board unanimously accepted the draft plan, which includes a list of 100 recommendations ranging from offering home ownership grants to Black residents to providing a $5 million lump sum.
But Before we get ahead of ourselves and start planning a move to San Francisco, it’s worth diving into the details. First and foremost, the board still has time to reject or change any or all of the recommendations by the reparations committee.
It’s also worth noting that under any of these plans, not every Black person residing in San Francisco currently would be eligible. Some of the criteria that the committee floated include the length of time living in the city and being a victim or descendant of a victim of the war on drugs.
Naturally, the plan has some serious opponents who argue that the city can’t afford to pay for reparations. Others argued that technically, California was one of the “free states” and should be exempt. If you do a little digging, however, you’ll discover slavery certainly existed in California.
Eric McDonnell, Chair of the Reparations Committee, didn’t hold back when discussing critiques of the plan: “There’s still a veiled perspective that, candidly, Black folks don’t deserve this. The number itself, $5 million, is actually low when you consider the harm.”
San Francisco isn’t the only place looking into reparations. The Boston City Council unanimously voted to form a task force to look into reparations in December.
The economic disparities between Black and white Bostonians are pretty dire. The median household net worth for Black Bostonians in 2015 was $8 compared to $247,500 for the average white family. And the new task force will examine how decades of slavery, discrimination, and prejudice got the story to where it is today and what reparations could do to fix it.
Detroit, Michigan, also joined the reparations train to create its own task force. In Amherst, Massachusetts, the city council voted to allocate $2 million total in reparations over the next ten years.
It seems unlikely Black residents of San Francisco or any of these cities will see $5 million in their bank accounts soon. But the case for reparations has undoubtedly come a long way in the last few years.