Reparations Panel divided over who should be compensated
California’s first-in-the-nation task force on reparations is at a crossroads, with members divided on which Black Americans should be eligible for compensation as atonement for a slave system that officially ended with the Civil War but reverberates to this day.
Some members want to limit financial and other compensation to descendants of enslaved people while others say that all Black people in the U.S., regardless of lineage, suffer from systemic racism in housing, education and employment. The task force could vote on eligibility soon after putting it off last month.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating the two-year reparations task force in 2020, making California the only state to move ahead with a study and plan, with a mission to study the institution of slavery and its harms and to educate the public about its findings.
The committee is not even a year into its two-year process and there is no compensation plan of any kind on the table. But there is broad agreement among advocates of the need for multi-faceted remedies for related yet separate harms, such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration and redevelopment that resulted in displacement of Black communities.
Compensation could include:
- Free college
- Assistance buying homes
- Assicatance launching businesses
- Grants to churches and community organizations
Yet, the eligibility question has dogged the group since its inaugural meeting in June, when viewers called in pleading with the nine-member group to devise targeted proposals and cash payments to make whole the descendants of people enslaved in the U.S.
Kamilah Moore, the committee’s chair, said she expects robust discussion, which will include testimony from genealogists. She favors eligibility based on lineage, rather than race, saying it will have the best chance of surviving a legal challenge in a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
“A reparations plan based on race would attract hyper-aggressive challenges that could have very negative implications for other states looking to do something similar, or even for the federal government. Eligibility based on lineage, rather than race, saying it will have the best chance of surviving a legal challenge in a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.Everyone’s looking to what we’re going to do.”
-Kamilah Moore, Committee’s chair
“The legacy of slavery broke my family and stunted our ability to dream of anything beyond survival. Opening up compensation to Black immigrants or even descendants of slaves from other countries would leave U.S. descendants with mere pennies.”
-California Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, Legislation author
“No one asked me if my ancestors were enslaved in the United States or if they were enslaved in Jamaica or if they were enslaved in Barbados. We have to embrace this concept that Black lives matter, not just a sliver of those Black lives, because Black lives are in danger, especially today.”
-Lisa Holder, Task force member who lost her child at delivery, because the medical staff did not take seriously the concerns of a young Black woman who knew something was wrong with her baby.
A report is due by June with a reparations proposal due by July 2023 for the Legislature to consider turning into law.
Kamala Harris releases plan to stop bias in home appraisals
Vice President Kamala Harris has unveiled an action plan to stop racial discrimination in the appraisal of home values. The 21-step plan seeks to improve oversight and accountability in the home appraisal business. It includes a legislative proposal to modernize the governance structure of the appraisal industry.
“A home appraisal is a critical element of the home buying and lending process, intended to provide an independent, fair, and objective estimate of the market value of a property so that lenders can accurately evaluate risk,” the administration stated in a Fact Sheet. “Homeownership is the primary contributor to wealth building for Black and brown households and continues to hold promise for building multigenerational wealth and housing stability for households of color. But, bias in home valuations limits the ability of Black and brown families to enjoy the financial returns associated with homeownership, thereby contributing to the already sprawling racial wealth gap.”
Administration officials said the median white family holds eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Latino family. According to a recent study, eliminating racial disparities in the wealth families gain from owning a home would narrow the wealth gap by an additional 16 percent between Black and white households and an additional 41 percent between Latino and white households.
To view the plan, visit http://www.PAVE.HUD.gov.