California Secretary of State Pushes for Reparations

Written by Sasha Reva

Last Thursday, California’s Secretary of State said that reparations for African Americans should be limited to people whose forebears were kidnapped, stripped of their ancestry and left with nothing. Shirley Weber, the daughter and granddaughter of sharecroppers, said while Black immigrants have suffered from racism, they always had a country to return to.  

Weber previously served in the Assembly in the 79th district. She was elevated to Secretary of State after the position was vacated by Alex Padilla who became Senator. Weber says that slavery was more than a physical condition, but has had a massive psychological impact, “The fear my grandfather felt, I remember as a child, was palpable, and it crippled him and his family’s ability to dream beyond the cotton fields,” Weber said . She believes that Barack Obama likely never wanted to become president if he wasn’t descended from enslaved people. Obama, was the first country’s Black president, who had a white mother and a Black father from Kenya. “Obama did not have limitations and fears drilled in his psyche, and thus aspired to become the president of the United States,” Weber said.

California currently has a nine-member task force to discuss and address the damages of slavery. The task force began in July and has a two-year timeline on a report. Critics have said that California did not have slaves as in other states and that we shouldn’t pay for the issue. African Americans are just 6% of California’s population yet were 30% of an estimated 250,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2020.  In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation returning beachfront property to descendants of a Black couple who had the land taken away.

Weber’s great-grandfather was born into slavery, running from the Ku Klux Klan. She said she would not have written the legislation if she had known the pool of recipients would be expanded.

Photo Cred: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Pres