Black American Update On The Recent California Reparations Task Force Meeting: 5 Things To Know

The historic California Reparations Task Force is still hard at work to meet the goal for which it exists: “to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans, with a special consideration for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.”

At its last two-day hearing, held Sept. 24-25, many community members passionately weighed in on what they believe a reparations plan for Black Americans should look like, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Although California was not a slave state, its legacy of racism towards its Black citizens is highly documented – including local and state governments outright stealing land from Black families and ordering the burning of Black communities.

Here are five things to know about the most recent meeting of the California Reparations Task Force.

1. Task force and community members discussed the best format for implementing a reparations plan.

The California Science Center was filled with concerned residents who believe Black Americans deserve reparations. While there was continued dissent on the lineage-based criteria the task force voted on, many agree redress is owed for the harms Black Americans have endured during and since slavery.

According to a report by Patch, experts identified five examples of harms that should be considered when developing reparations proposals. They include unjust taking of property, devaluing Black businesses, health-related harms, mass incarceration and over-policing, housing discrimination and homelessness.

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2. The meeting follows the task force’s interim report released in June detailing the various harms done to Black Americans.

The hearing is the first held to garner public input since the task force released a 500-page interim report detailing the specific history of discrimination, racism and oppression descendants of the enslaved faced.

In an exclusive June interview, task force chair and attorney Kamilah Moore, 29, told The Moguldom Nation the response to the report’s release has been “overwhelming.” It’s “the most extensive government-issued report on the African American community since the Kerner Commission in 1968,” she said.

3. Some activists spoke against a bill proposed by Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, also a member of the reparations task force.

Assembly Bill 2296 sought to extend the life of the task force and grant those who appointed members the authority to remove them. Many advocates were against it, a sentiment they expressed during the public comments.

“I want to express my vehement opposition to AB 2296,” activist Marcus Champion said. “This legislation was not asked for by the public or members of the task force, nor were they even made aware, which speaks to the unethical spirit of the bill.” 

“Member Jones-Sawyer made sure he kept AB 2296 in the shadows as much as possible while moving it through the California legislature, only making one public comment prior to a couple of weeks ago,” Champion continued. 

“Under the cover of more darkness member Jones Sawyer added an amendment that allows for members to be removed by their appointing body,” Champion added. “Allowing members to be removed 15 months into this 24-month process makes this commission vulnerable to special interests and politics and ultimately threatens the credibility of the whole process.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ultimately vetoed the bill.

4. Members of other communities who’ve received reparations spoke.

During the hearing, members of other communities that have either received, or are fighting for, reparations spoke, according to the LA Times. 

Among them were: Holocaust survivors, South African apartheid victims and Japanese Americans whose rights were violated when they were sent to prison camps during World War II.

5. Despite differing viewpoints, attendees expressed excitement about the progress made at the meeting.

Author and journalist Tony Ray Harvey tweeted he believed Black Americans would be able to work past their differences to get the work of the reparations task force done.

“California Reparations TASK FORCE Mtg in Los Angeles was high on passion and various beliefs of compensation but an extreme display of mutual respect. Like Chad Brown (#NAASDLA ) said, Black folks ‘gonna work it out,’” Harvey tweeted.

Chair Moore said she was excited about the progress made at the meeting and announced when the next one would be.

“Los Angeles showed up & showed out at the official California Reparations Task Force September public hearings! Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in person and virtually! The task force will meet again in Oakland on Dec. 14-15,” Moore tweeted.

PHOTO: NAASDLA member Marcus Champion speaks against AB 2296 at the two-day hearing of the California Reparations Task Force on September 24, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter / @The1stLadeLove)

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