In 2020, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating the two-year reparations task force, California became the only state to take such an action. At the very start it was clear that such a step would not run smoothly and now we learn that after a vote of 5-4, the task force has limited the state compensation to just the descendants of free and enslaved people in the U.S. in the 19th century, thus rejecting a proposal to include all
Black people regardless of lineage.
The vote has ignited a fresh round of debate on who should receive reparations, if the state of California should be forced to compensate since it was not a slave state, and even if the differences are resolved is the money available or a plan to determine how compensation would proceed.
It’s a testy and emotional situation, but at least California has begun a serious discussion on the matter that may have national repercussions.
Perhaps this will stimulate the federal government to take up the issue; some cities such as Providence, Rhode Island, Evanston, Illinois, and Boston have already begun commissions to study the problem.
Hey, where is New York in this reparations quest that too many view as a pointless boondoggle with no resolution in the immediate future?
But this inactivity should not mean defeat. For example, just the other day President Biden signed the Emmett Till Bill into law making lynching a federal crime, a measure that failed again and again, more than 200 times before success.
Maybe what’s needed is for the feds and the president to embrace reparations, pick up on the impetus provided by California. Even so, as it has been in the past, reparations is a complicated factor with too many elements to be settled.
There is nothing new about any of this, though we can cheer the developments on the West Coast and wish our own coast would step up to the plate.