During a California reparations committee meeting on Wednesday, activists demanded that the state pay Black residents and Black-owned businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars each in reparations.
The meeting was held at the City Hall in Oakland, California — the birthplace of the Black Panthers movement — where around 60 people had gathered to discuss eligibility requirements for payments and compensation in regard to the issue of reparations for slavery, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Max Fennell, 35, a Black resident of California, a former triathlete, and current owner of a coffee shop, argued that Black individuals should receive $350,000 each in reparations to close the racial wealth gap. The business owner also demanded that California give Black-owned businesses $250,000 each, as well as 15 to 20 acres of land.
“It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free. We’re not asking; we’re telling you,” Fennel said.
Economists are seeking guidance in 5 harms experienced by Black people: government taking of property, devaluation of Black-owned businesses, housing discrimination and homelessness, mass incarceration and over-policing, and health.@sophieadanna @janieharhttps://t.co/GShYCU3XUD
— Stefanie Dazio (@steffdaz) December 15, 2022
Another activist, Deon Jenkins, who ran for U.S. Senate in California, suggested to the reparations task force that, in order to counter supposed housing discrimination, reparations should be close to the average cost of a home in California — around $800,000.
California’s reparations committee was created when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed it into law in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and riots in 2020, and the task force has until July 1, 2023 to finalize its report and send recommendations to the state legislature.
Of course, many have questioned exactly why California would be providing reparations in the first place, as it entered the Union in 1850 as a free state.
In non-slave state California, taxpayers, who never owned slaves, will pay $233K in “reparations” to blacks, who were never slaves. Will California taxpayers seek compensation from descendants of African chiefs, without whose complicity the slave trade could not have happened?
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) December 7, 2022
In June, the committee released a 492-page interim report recommending that California pay reparations — claiming “Despite California entering the Union in 1850 as a free state, its early state government supported slavery.”
The report also suggested that the state implement a separate public schooling system just for Black students.
Meanwhile, in March, the committee voted 5-4 to limit reparations payments solely to those who are descendants of slaves.
Other cities have also made similar efforts, with the city council in Boston, Massachusetts voting earlier this week to create a reparations committee in “atonement” for Black residents, the city’s role in financing slavery and its history of racial inequality, according to the AP.
New York is reportedly also exploring the possibility of creating a reparations committee.