Roadmap to Reparations in California Offered by Black Leaders

Corey Jackson, a California Assemblymember, emphasized that the fundamental aspects of reparations are acknowledgment, apology, and atonement during a panel at the CalMatters Ideas Festival on June 6.

At the event, Jackson was joined by Kristin Nimmers, Policy Manager of the California Black Power Network, and Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, to deliberate on tackling persisting challenges within the Black community, including housing, healthcare, and mass incarceration.

Fred Blackwell highlighted that the 1,000-page report produced by a state task force last year goes beyond mere monetary compensation for descendants of enslaved individuals, aiming to rectify systemic racism and discrimination.

“The emphasis on cash payouts is superficial. It’s a means to attract attention, but the essence lies in addressing the broader issues of racial injustice and bias,” remarked Blackwell.

Blackwell credited the reparations task force for diligently transforming over 200 recommendations from the report into tangible legislative proposals. The Black Caucus legislators are initiating a comprehensive 14-bill package to advance this cause, according to Jackson.

Reflecting on the task force’s work, Jackson expressed profound admiration, stating, “Their dedication and output are commendable. They have elevated their mission to a sacred endeavor, intending to fulfill the aspirations of our forebears.”

Nimmers stressed that a key proposal from the reparations report involves amending the California Constitution to outlaw coerced labor for incarcerated individuals, addressing the exploitative dynamics within the prison industrial complex.

She further emphasized that extending reparations to the Black community can serve as a model for providing similar restitution to marginalized groups like Native Americans and Japanese Americans, underscoring the inclusive nature of such initiatives.

Jackson singled out two pivotal recommendations from the reparations report that resonate with him: “We must advocate for tuition-free higher education and facilitate access to homeownership with support to cultivate intergenerational wealth.”

To comprehensively grasp the challenges faced by the Black population in California, the Black Caucus will collaborate with the Black Freedom Fund to launch a State of Black California tour commencing on June 15, visiting key areas with varying African American demographics for awareness and education purposes.

Describing the tour, Jackson outlined, “Our outreach will cover six locations across California, spanning both sizable and smaller African American communities, to disseminate data illustrating the current realities. The tour includes stops in Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Oakland, and Moreno Valley.”

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