SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California’s reparations task force met again Wednesday to try to guide a group of economists on figuring out how eligible Black Californians can be compensated for harms rooted in slavery.
The task force was created to study the effects of slavery and decide what reparations should be.
“It does sound like we’ve come to a workable model,” said task force member Jovan Lewis.
The group officially decided this week restitution will go to direct descendants of either free Blacks or enslaved African Americans living in the United States by the end of the 19th century, but that’s just the starting point.
“How exactly will we capture these qualitative elements associated with emotional harm and distress from a system that has been so extracting and so damaging,” asked economist Kaycea Campbell.
For compensation, the group agreed to use what economists called a state-specific harms model.
The model would determine what specific harms the state should pay for, including unjust property taking, housing discrimination, unwarranted police violence and labor discrimination, to name a few.
“It seems as if there might be a tier system where it’s all for descendants of enslaved people, but depending if you were in the state of California longer, you probably experienced more harm,” said Kamilah Moore, the chair of the task force.
The task force ultimately decided not to use what economists call the national model for reparations which calculates an amount due to those eligible and divides that number among the group.
Economists urged against the national model noting that if compensation meant addressing the wealth gap between Black and white Americans, each eligible person could be owed more than $300,000.
That would cost the state about $670 billion which is money California does not have. This year’s entire state budget is estimated to be less than half of that.
But with the harms model, the group faces questions it will have to answer, including setting eligible timelines for the harm and who exactly qualifies as a California resident.
“The more information we get, the complexity of this becomes truly difficult,” said Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles.
The task force is expected to have a plan delivered to lawmakers by next summer.