Until a few years ago, the idea of paying financial reparations to descendants of African slaves was dismissed as a fringe idea.
Now a notion that President Barack Obama once rejected as impractical is becoming public policy. California offers a dramatic example as officials there review a proposal that could pay in excess of $1 million each to some black residents, while more than a dozen U.S. municipalities are moving ahead with their own race-based programs to redress the legacies of slavery.
The last time racial reparations made the major news was on the eve of September 11, 2001 attacks. The loss of 3,000 Americans, which for a time fueled a new national unity, quickly dispelled the absurdities of the reparation movement, and turned our attention toward more existential issues. Now the idea is back in vogue again. Here are 10 reasons why the nation’s—and especially California’s—discussions of reparatory payouts are dangerous in a multiracial state, and why reparations are not viable either in an insolvent state or a bankrupt nation at large.
The City of San Francisco is considering a reparations plan that would give $5 million lump sum payments to each eligible black person, according to its 2022 draft plan.
Recipients are required to be 18 or older, to have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least ten years and to meet at least two qualifications from a list of possible relationships one may have with incidents such as drug-related incarceration or slavery, according to the proposal. The proposal also recommends that the city formally apologize for past wrongdoings, establish a new city office to execute the plan and create a committee to “ensure equity and continuity in the implementation of relevant policy initiatives.”
California is considering paying “reparations” to black Californians who are directly descended from enslaved people, which may surprise most Californians. After all, slavery was never legal in the Golden State.
Governor Gavin Newsom, heedless of the fiasco he’s inviting, formed a “Reparations Task Force,” no doubt with his future presidential aspirations in mind. The task force issued an interim report in June, detailing California’s “history of slavery and racism and recommending ways the Legislature might begin a process of redress for Black Californians, including proposals to offer housing grants, free tuition, and to raise the minimum wage.”
Black residents of California could receive $223,200 each in reparations payments, according to an estimate by the state’s reparations task force reported by The New York Times.
The nine-member task force, authorized by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, recommended $569 billion total in reparations for black residents due to the effects of housing discrimination, though the number could increase before the final recommendations are due June 2023, according to the NYT. Currently, 6.5% of California’s population, or 2.5 million people, identify as black or African-American.
The far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on the United Nations to demand that the United States hand out reparations to African-Americans over past issues such as slavery.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the ACLU, along with several other left-wing groups such as Human Rights Watch, sent their demands to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, calling on the international organization to force Joe Biden to announce “immediate, tangible measures” to “dismantle structural racism” in the United States.
In California, the first reparations panel in the nation has spent two years trying to decide which African-Americans are eligible for reparations.
According to the Associated Press, the state’s panel on reparations, which was first created following a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) in 2020, has been plagued with internal divisions over how many black Americans should receive financial compensation for alleged “racism.”
President Joe Biden’s nominee to regulate the banking industry has previously expressed support for economic reparations to black Americans, Fox Business reported Monday.
Lisa Cook, a professor of international relations and economics at Michigan State University, has an extensive history of supporting “race-specific” financial compensation “because the injury was race-specific,” Fox reported. Cook was nominated on Jan. 14 to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
“Everybody benefited from slavery. Everybody. So, I think that we absolutely need some sort of reckoning with that,” said Cook on the EconTalk podcast in September 2020. “One thing I do support is H.R. 40 … I think that’s absolutely what needs to be done,” said Cook in a March 2021 talk at Berkeley Haas, referencing a bill that would establish a commission to study and develop reparation proposals.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday failed to formally file an appeal in federal court against an injunction that was issued against one of the most controversial aspects of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, leaving the future of planned reparations for non-White farmers in doubt, as reported by Politico.
Monday was the deadline for the DOJ to do so, 60 days after federal judges ultimately ruled that the $4 billion program, which would forgive the debts of exclusively non-White farmers, was unconstitutional and thus could not be implemented. The measure was one of many elements of the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by Joe Biden in March.