California officials put together a task force to study and recommend proper reparations to African American residents to address the effects of slavery and systemic racism, holding its inaugural meeting on Tuesday.
Slavery Reparations Committee
United Presidents Joe Biden visited Oklahoma at the same time the first state reparations committee in the country held a meeting. Biden marked the centenary of the Tulsa race massacre and commemorated the deaths of hundreds of Black Americans who died after a white mob attacked them in what is called the “Black Wall Street.”
In April, the House Judiciary Committee passed a federal slavery reparations bill which is expected to face opposition. Officials first introduced the bill in Congress in 1989 and notes the government at the time failed to provide newly-freed slaves with 40 acres of land.
Shirley Weber, California’s Secretary of State, authored the state legislation that is responsible for creating the task force. She said the bill is an opportunity for America to right the wrong that continues today, affecting residents with racial disparities in wealth, health, and education.
While African Americans only account for 6% of the state’s total population, they make up 30% of an estimated 250,000 homeless people who sought help in 2020, The Guardian reported.
“Your task is to determine the depth of the harm, and the ways in which we are to repair that harm,” Weber said. Last year, California State Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill and previously issued a formal apology to Native American tribal leaders in 2019.
Many critics are against the reparations committee, arguing California was not a slaveholding state in previous times. However, Weber said the state is an economic powerhouse and can be a role model for the federal government to address the issue.