California was the first state in the nation to open up a task force to look into reparations for descendants of slaves. The task force was passed two years ago and was authored by former San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber who is now the California Secretary of State. The bill was signed into law by Gavin Newsom which gave “special consideration” to Black Californians who are descendants of slaves. Now, the eligibility has been somewhat slimmed down.
After about six hours of deliberation and debate, the task force voted 5-4 to limit eligibility for benefits to those who can prove that they are a direct descendant of an enslaved individual or a free Black person living in the U.S before the end of the 19th century. An estimated 2.6 million Black Californians would therefore be eligible for benefits or reparations which could come in the form of a cash payout.
The debate over eligibility was reportedly very heated. Task force member Cheryl Grills said that excluding some Black Californians was, “another win for white supremacy”. Task force chairwoman Kamilah Moore said in response that not going with a lineage-based approach would, “aggrieve the victims of slavery.” The task force was also briefed by around 10 genealogists on the significance of lineage-based model and how people can trace their lineage.
The task force has also discussed the effect of Jim Crow laws, redlining, police brutality, and many other issues that affected Black Californians.