SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — The state’s Reparations Task Force met Tuesday to discuss some of the inequalities Black Californians face every day.
The group is spending two years studying the effects of slavery and other government decisions that led to racial injustices for African Americans.
Housing and education segregation, along with environmental racism, were topics covered in the meeting. Witnesses who presented to the task force urged change in those key areas.
“We know that housing is still a manifestation of Jim Crow and anti-Blackness,” said environmental analyst Anthony Rogers-Wright.
The task force received testimony from expert witnesses on racial disparities in education and the environment, linking both to discrimination and segregation in housing. Panelists pointed to federal data showing the nation’s Black-white dissimilarity score is 55.
“What this means is that 55% of either African Americans or white Americans would have to move to a different race neighborhood to be fully integrated. In other words, it means we live in a very segregated society,” said UC Berkeley researcher Stephen Menendian.
Experts said the lack of integration in neighborhoods and government decision-making over decades has resulted in inequitable resources for Black and brown communities compared to neighboring, predominantly white areas, especially in schools. Others pointed out it makes college preparation more difficult.
Kawika Smith is a plaintiff against the University of California for discriminatory use of the SAT and ACT in college admissions. He suggested an overall reevaluation of property tax laws that fund schools across the state.
“I believe we must uproot this current system and do away with it. It has proven to be archaic, it has proven to be anti-Black, capitalist. It has shown its head through and through,” Smith said.
Environmental racism was another focus for the task force. Experts note the environmental gentrification currently happening in cities like Oakland is leaving Black communities behind.
“What is taking place now is not only Green gentrification of displacement but also government, while economically excluding populations that need it the most,” said ecologist C.N.E Corbin.
Because the agenda for this month’s meeting is long, the task force will meet again tomorrow to focus on racism in banking, tax labor and the wealth gap.