Gov. Newsom Signs Law For Black Americans To Be Identified As A Separate Group To Help Support Lineage-Based Reparations Claims

California reparations advocates recently achieved another goal when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that directs state agencies to disaggregate or separate data collection categories for Black and African American subgroups.

Senate Bill 189 (SB-189) was authored by the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California (CJEC) and championed by California State Assemblymember Chris Holden, according to a press release from CJEC.

“For the first time in California and American history, a specific category of data collection will be required for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States and living in California, starting with the state’s 2.5 million employees,” the release states. “For the first time since Reconstruction, the political status of American Freedmen is being recognized by the state of California.”

The bill will separate Black and African Americans into the following subgroups and beyond:

  • (1) African Americans who are descendants of persons who were enslaved in the United States.
  • (2) Blacks who are not descendants of persons who were enslaved in the United States, including, but not limited to, African Blacks, Caribbean Blacks, and other Blacks.
  • (3) Unknown or choose not to identify.

The legislation’s goal is to help Black Californians determine their lineage to help support eligibility for reparations claims since the state’s historic task force voted to use lineage-based criteria in March.

It is a welcome change for advocates who have fought tirelessly for Black Americans descended from people enslaved in the United States to be recognized as a separate group.

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“It passed and I’m so glad it did, and it’s so interesting hearing commentary from non-Black people in particular about the disaggregation,” Khansa Jones-Muhammad, who is also known as Friday Jones, told Moguldom.

Jones-Muhammad said people against data disaggregation within the Black community seem okay when it occurs in other communities. She said it would only help prove the unique claim Black descendants of those enslaved in America have for compensation due to the harms imposed on them.

“When you look at the Black descendant community, almost like the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community before it was disaggregated, I think you’re going to find a similar reality with the disaggregation of the African American community,” Jones-Muhammad continued.

CJEC credited renowned reparation scholar William ‘Sandy’ Darity for helping inform their research when writing the legislation.

In April, CJEC lead organizer Chris Lodgson explained to attendees at a community meeting that even if they successfully passed any bills establishing lineage criteria, there would still be much work to do.

“We have a double fight ahead of us,” Lodgson told the group. “That’s why it’s important to have you a part of the process of actually creating it because I’m going to tell you, when we actually have language with land in it, with financial compensation in it, with rehabilitation in it, with free schooling in it, with no taxes in it, with free healthcare in it, with all the things that we know we’re owed that becomes the second part of our fight.”

The change in how state agencies collect data from Black Californians will fully take effect by 2024.

PHOTO: In this image made from video from the Office of the Governor California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs into law a bill that establishes a task force to come up with recommendations on how to give reparations to Black Americans on Sept. 30, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. A report by California’s first in the nation task force on reparations Wednesday, June 1, 2022, will document in detail the harms perpetuated by the state against Black people and recommend ways to address those wrongs. (Office of the Governor via AP, File)

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