Black California residents could receive up to $1.2 million based on how many years they have lived in the state after its official reparation task force approved recommendations on Saturday to issue a formal reparative monetary apology.
The nine-member panel, which became the first task force in the United States to form in September 2020, advanced the plan recommendations in Oakland, California. The draft includes calculated dollar figures based on categories ranging from mass incarceration, housing discrimination, and other alleged injustices.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 2.5 million Californians— about 6.5 percent of the state’s population— are black and could be eligible to receive reparations based on certain requirements.
“Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long-standing racial disparities and inequalities,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) told The Associated Press.
According to the final report, black communities impacted by mass incarceration and over-policing aligning with the national War on Drugs could receive about $115,260 per person, or $2,352 each year they lived in California from 1971-2020.
Panel members said black residents impacted by lending and zoning redlining by banks between 1933 and 1977 could receive $3,366 each year they resided in California, capping at $148,099. Another method created by the panel calculated gaps between black and white “housing wealth” at $145,847 per person.
Other alleged injustices and discriminations in health estimated $13,619 per person for each year lived in California.
Based on a New York Times analysis, a black person living in California for 71 years — the average life expectancy of Black residents in California in 2021 — could receive up to $1.2 million. Some economists projected to The Associated Press that California could owe more than $800 billion in reparations, which more than doubles the state’s annual budget.
“Apologies alone are inadequate to provide justice to victims or redress wrongs,” the draft reads. “But when combined with material forms of reparations, apologies provide an opportunity for communal reckoning with the past and repair for moral, physical, and dignitary harms.”
One woman attending Saturday’s meeting said $1.2 million in incremental payments “is nowhere near enough.”
“We want direct cash payments just like how the stimulus [checks] were sent out,” the woman said, according to The Daily Mail. “It’s our inheritance, and we can handle it.”
She added that the plan should resemble San Francisco’s newly formed reparations committee, which proposed that longtime black residents of the Northern California metropolitan city would receive up to $5 million each for facing decades of “systematic repression.”
Panel members recommended the apology from the California legislature should include a “censure of the gravest barbarities carried out on behalf of the State,” which consists of an exhaustive list of notes since California entered the Union in 1850.
Although California entered the Union outlawing slavery, the draft states that it did not pass laws at the time to guarantee freedom.
The California Supreme Court enforced the federal Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed for the capture and return of runaway enslaved people until the official end of enslavement in 1865.
California has previously issued apologies for placing Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II, mistreatment of Native Americans, and abuses in its eugenics sterilization program that forcibly sterilized patients in state hospitals and homes without true consent.
Task force members are scheduled to release the report by July 1. If lawmakers approve the plan, the state will create a new agency to oversee the program, determine eligibility, and distribute funds.