Payouts of up to $1.2 MILLION for every black resident approved by California reparations panel

In total, a black Californian around the age of 71 that has lived in the state for their entire life could receive up to $1.2 million.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Saturday, the California Reparations Task Force voted on the final set of recommendations to send to the state’s legislatures, formally recommending that the state pays up to $1.2 million to every qualifying black resident.

During the task force’s public meeting in Oakland, the nine-member panel called on the state to give black residents a formal apology as well as the payments, according to Fox News. California entered the union as a free state, and slavery was never legal under state law.

"Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long-standing racial disparities and inequalities," said Representative Barbara Lee after attending the meeting.

Payments received by black residents would be broken down into types of historical discrimination, with black residents affected by bank redlining, for example, receiving $3,366 for each year they lived in California between the early 1930s to the late 1970s, adding up to $148,009.

For those living in California between 1970 and 2020 that were affected by over-policing and mass incarceration, black residents would receive roughly $2,352 for each year they lived in the state, amounting to upwards of $115,260.

In total, a black Californian around the age of 71 that has lived in the state for their entire life could receive up to $1.2 million.

The panel does not have any legal weight, and the Saturday vote included only recommendations for the state legislature. Howver, Governor Gavin Newsom has backed the concept of reparations in the state. He formed the reparations panel in 2021.

"California is leading the nation, in a bipartisan way, on the issue of reparations and racial justice, which is a discussion that is long overdue and deserves our utmost attention,” said Governor Newsom at the time. “Last year, I signed into law a number of key bills focused on leveling the playing field in our society and ensuring that everyone has a fair shot at achieving the California dream. Today’s appointment of individuals with an expansive breadth of knowledge, experiences and understanding of issues impacting the African American community is the next step in our commitment as a state to build a California for all."

The cost of reparations for the state should they choose to enact the plan could be in excess of $800 billion.

Some black residents who attended Saturday’s meeting demanded larger payments, including Reverend Tony Pierce, who made reference to the "40 acres and a mule’ promise made to former slaves when he took the podium. 

"You know that the numbers should be equivocal to what an acre was back then. We were given 40, OK? We were given 40 acres. You know what that number is. You keep trying to talk about now, yet you research back to slavery and you say nothing about slavery, nothing," said Pierce. "So, the equivocal number from the 1860s for 40 acres to today is $200 million for each and every African American."

During the meeting, task force chair Kamilah Moore had to call for security to remove people multiple times after attendees argued and spoke out of turn.

The draft recommendation noted that when California entered the Union as a free state in 1850, it did not pass laws to guarantee freedom to its black residents. The recommendation noted that for a decade after emancipation, the state allowed enforcement of the Fugitive Slave act, which allowed the capture and return of runaway slaves.


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