California is pushing full steam ahead with its plan to give reparations to Black Californians for the myriad of harms perpetrated against them. However, some lawmakers are warning Black residents not to bank on a massive payout.
Last week, California’s Reparation Task Force voted to approve a series of reparations recommendations. The task force called on the state to formally apologize to Black residents for a series of harms, including redlining, mass incarceration, and the state’s complicity in slavery. (For those wondering, you have to be a descendant of an enslaved person or a free Black person living in the U.S. before the 19th century.) The panel also recommended direct cash payments to Black residents but stopped short of recommending a specific dollar amount.
California’s state legislature will vote on the plan on July 1st. But, lawmakers on the reparations panel warn not to start planning for a big payout. At least not anytime soon. Chief among those throwing cold water on celebrations over reparations is Democratic State Senator Steven Bradford of Los Angeles.
“I don’t want to set folks’ expectations and hopes up that they’re going to be getting, you know, seven-figure checks,” said Bradford, according to the AP. “That’s just not happening.”
Other members of the state legislature have been more coy about whether they believe large cash payments are possible. “We have absolutely no idea right now what will or will not be approved,” said Democratic Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, according to the AP. Jones-Sawyer also sits on the task force.
California Governor Gavin Newsome has not come out in support of the cash payments. And the state’s massive budget deficit looms large in the reparations conversation. Still, the fact that California has come this far provides some level of hope to folks who’ve spent the last decade fighting for reparations, especially as the push for reparations in San Francisco moves forward on a separate track.