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What to know about the California reparations task force’s sprawling, historic report


On Wednesday, California’s reparations task force, the first of its kind in the nation, released a sprawling report detailing its recommendations for a plan that would hold the state accountable for its role in slavery and its residual impacts.

It represents the most significant, statewide step toward Black reparations in modern history. 

In its 500-page interim report, the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans outlined the history of racist abuse enslaved African Americans have suffered. A final report will be issued by July, the task force said.

Officials at all levels of government have historically failed to both give Black people full citizenship rights and offer them protection from terror and violence, according to the interim report.

“Along with a dereliction of its duty to protect its Black citizens, direct federal, state and local government actions continued to enforce the racist lies created to justify slavery,” the report stated. “These laws and government-supported cultural beliefs have since formed the foundation of innumerable modern laws, policies, and practices across the nation.”

The report includes a thorough list of policy recommendations meant to help resolve the racial inequalities that have persisted in various aspects of life during and since slavery began in the United States. That list includes ideas to stem racial terrorism, education inequality, political disenfranchisement, racist incarceration, housing inequality and health inequality.

The report is designed as a model for a federal reparations plan. One section calls for the final version to be sent to the White House and Congress with a recommendation that the federal government create a Reparations Commission for African Americans/American Freedmen through statute or executive action.

You can find the full list of recommendations here

Here are a few that stood out to me:

Incarceration

  • Allow incarcerated people to vote.
  • Remove language from the state penal code saying every incarcerated person should work “as many hours of faithful labor in each day and every day during his or her term of imprisonment as shall be prescribed by the rules and regulations of the director of Corrections.”
  • Require that incarcerated people working in prison or jail be paid a fair market rate for their labor. 
  • Prohibit prisons from price-gouging incarcerated people and their families who want to purchase goods and services available in prison.

Ending racial terror

  • Reform laws to make it easier for people to hold law enforcement officers accountable for violence.
  • Estimate the value of Black-owned businesses and property in California stolen or destroyed through acts of racial terror, distribute the amount back to Black Californians, and make housing and business grants and loans more available to Black Californians.
  • Create expressive ways to acknowledge and remember the legacy of anti-Black racism and honor its victims.

Education

  • Provide funding for free tuition to California colleges and universities.
  • Provide funding for Black-owned and controlled K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and trade schools.
  • Develop strategies to recruit more Black teachers, and make things like culturally responsive training and anti-bias training mandatory for teachers to be credentialed.
  • Provide scholarships for Black high school graduates to cover four years of undergraduate education to address specific and ongoing discrimination faced in California schools.

Housing

  • Eliminate all anti-Black housing discrimination policies. 
  • Compensate individuals forcibly removed from their homes due to state action.

Establish a state-subsidized mortgage system that guarantees low interest rates for qualified California Black mortgage applicants.

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