The nine-member panel plans to release a full report to Sacramento lawmakers next year detailing state-level reparation recommendations. The group hopes their efforts will minimize the wealth gap between black and white California residents.
The task force’s 2022 preliminary report analyzed five potential compensation areas, including housing discrimination, mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of black businesses, and health care.
In March, the task force determined that those eligible to receive reparations include California residents who are descendants of enslaved African-Americans or a “free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.”
In the United States, black households have a median wealth of $24,100, whereas white households have a median wealth of $188,200, the preliminary paper noted, citing the most recent Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances.
The task force blamed the wealth gap on redlining and racist housing covenants that segregated black California residents from the 1950s to the 1960s.
The panel concluded that black Californian residents are owed a total of $569 billion, or $223,200 each, for housing discrimination.
The Reparations Task Force is still determining how reparations would be best distributed to eligible individuals. Members are considering whether reparations should be provided in the form of tuition, housing grants, or direct cash payments.
Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the Reparations Task Force, told the Times, “We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction.”
While the task force may be the nation’s most extensive reparations effort in recent history, the panel of nine can only make recommendations to state lawmakers. It will be up to the legislators to determine whether to act on the recommendations and identify funding options.
“That is why we must put forward a robust plan, with plenty of options,” Lewis stated.