A state panel considering reparations for slavery in California, which entered the Union in 1850 as a free state, voted 5-4 on Tuesday to limit benefits to those who could actually show they were descended from slaves, not all who happen to be black.
As Breitbart News began reporting in 2020, Democrats in California passed legislation at the height of the Black Lives Matter riots to create a commission to consider the issue of reparations, even though the state was a free state at its birth:
Despite California’s free history, the reparations task force is assigned the mission of evaluating the history and impact of slavery on the United States as a whole.
The goal, as with many California policies, is to be a model for liberal policies elsewhere — or, as Newsom said, according to The Hill, to be “a paradigm that we hope will be resonant all across the United States.”
The nine-member panel, which did not appear to have any white or Hispanic members, launched last year, amid statements about the importance of slavery to the U.S. as a whole, and the anniversary of deadly race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921.
However, the panel could not agree for months on whether the proposed reparations for slavery should only include those who descended from black slaves, or those who could be construed broadly as victims of so-called “systemic racism.”
Finally, the panel decided to focus on descendants of slaves, for pragmatic reasons, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:
While the panel has have much work left to do, it is sharply divided after an emotional fight over the eligibility rules. The task force was split between two factions that are miles apart in their interpretation of whether reparations should be distributed using a lineage or race-based test.
[Chair Kamilah] Moore said while it might be hard for some to document their ancestry, a race-based standard would be far more challenging because it would require the state to define Blackness when a person’s racial identify can be subjective and could enable a host of false claims based on physical attributes like skin color.
Moore also evoked the stance of Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a former legislator who wrote the bill to create the task force. Weber previously implored members to keep their initial focus on reparations for people descended from slavery, so the effort doesn’t become so broad that nothing gets done. She has said people whose families came later did so willingly and without the economic burden of generations of unpaid labor.
The reparations would apply to all descendants of slaves in the U.S., not merely those who made their way to California.