Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature will soon receive a series of sweeping recommendations for restitution to African-Americans whose ancestors suffered economic damage from slavery and apartheid. . So what?
Then the governor and legislators will need to come out, face the public, and give a better response than we’ve heard: “I’m waiting for the final report on the recommendations.”
Report will be sent to the state Capitol by July 1. That is the deadline for the California Compensation Task Force — created by Newsom and lawmakers — to complete two years of regular work. his harshness.
This will be a difficult issue for every politician and policymaker who tries to strike a balance between providing some seemingly realistic justice without disrupting the state bank. . And there will be some who outright think large compensation is unreasonable but are afraid to say it publicly.
“I’m a tough ‘no’ person,” an influential Sacramento Democrat told me. When asked if I could quote him, he replied, “Oh, sure, then I’ll be called a big racist and get all sorts of crap.”
What preoccupies this person is not cash compensation but a long list of other desired preliminary proposals, such as enacting a single-payer health care system that has been thwarted by the Agency. Legislature refused twice.
One person willing to speak on the record is Democratic political adviser Steve Maviglio, a veteran Capitol special agent.
“Democrats need to be cautious in this regard,” he told me. “There needs to be an active educational component on the recommendations to overcome the voter skepticism that has been reflected in the vote so far.”
There hasn’t been a poll of what California voters think about the compensations that I know of.
But the Pew Research Center conducted a nationwide poll in November and the response was mostly negative – 68% of adults opposed paying the descendants of slaves in some way. Only 30% support it.
Among racial and ethnic groups, 77% of Blacks support the idea. But only 18% of whites did, along with 39% of Latinos and 33% of Asian Americans.
For compensation advocates, cash is the least popular option. The most popular idea – of 82% of those surveyed – is an educational scholarship.
One recommendation of the task force is all state residents are eligible for cash compensation Free tuition at universities in California.
That is certainly worth it. This could be the first step towards making tuition free for all Californians – regardless of income – at the University of California and the state university system.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss that notion. Free tuition was a state policy for generations until the 1970s when Sacramento got cheap and colleges got greedy. Free tuition has long been a California attraction and helps provide the state with an educated workforce to build its economy on.
California voters are more liberal than Americans in general, so they are more receptive to reparations than most countries. But I doubt it will be difficult to sell.
It will need strong backing from the governor, and so far he hasn’t said much. What he said recently got him in trouble. He seemed to reject the idea of cash payments, an impression his office later attempted to erase.
“We should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery and understand how that history has shaped our nation,” he said in a statement. .
“Dealing with the legacy of slavery is not just about cash payments,” says Newsom. “Many of the recommendations made by the task force are important action items that we have worked hard to address…and have invested billions of dollars to address disparities and improve work. degrees in housing, education, health care and more.”
But wait! Is he saying that reparations should be a national effort – led by Congress and the president – and not the sole project of a state, especially a non-Confederate state. southern?
A lot of Californians would probably agree with that.
After all, the federal government under President Reagan in 1988 apologized for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and paid $20,000 in compensation to the survivors. California is perhaps the biggest advocate of that shameful detention.
The task force proposed cash payments of more than $20,000 to the descendants of slaves. It did not suggest a specific amount but set damage from slavery and racism from $150,000 to over $1 million per person. So we can look at a payout of tens of billions of dollars. Or more.
Good luck with that. The governor just projected a budget deficit of $31.5 billion for the next fiscal year.
“I want to see something in this year’s budget,” said State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), a task force member and vice chair of the Black Caucus Legislative Group. “The budget reflects our values. If it’s not within the budget, it doesn’t really exist.
“I am fully committed to making sure this is real, not ambitious,” he said. “We have to crush the bones with meat.”
But he also said, “the compensation shouldn’t be just a check.”
He wanted something similar to the post-World War II GI Bill, helping veterans buy homes. “No down payment for first home buyers and low interest rates. Generations of wealth are passed down through property,” Bradford said.
Until the late 1960s, black Californians — and often Latinos and Asian Americans — were denied access to housing in many white neighborhoods because of racial restrictions. .
When I mentioned that California was admitted to the union as a free state—not a slave state—Bradford replied, “That dog doesn’t hunt. We are only a nominally free country.”
The Southerners brought their slaves to California and held them until slavery was abolished in the Civil War. The state does not have a law that makes it a crime to keep someone as a slave.
Nothing causes the worst in politicians and people like a war over race.
The upcoming debate at the state Capitol over reparations could have a happy ending for everyone, but only if there is a realistic compromise.