As the nation struggles with civil rights and unrest after the most recent shooting of a Black man by police, the California state Senate advanced proposals to study reparations for slavery.
After a bipartisan 33-3 vote, the state Senate passed the measure on Saturday. Next, it moves to the Assembly, which must act by the end of the next legislative session on Monday.
“Let’s be clear: chattel slavery, both in California and across our nation, birthed a legacy of racial harm and inequity that continues to impact the conditions of Black life in California,” said Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles.
Bolstering her claim, she cited disproportionate homelessness in the Black community, higher rates of unemployment, incarceration and higher health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to KTLA 5, the panel would be expected to conduct a detailed study of the impact of slavery in California, and then make recommendations to the Legislature by June 2023. The recommendations would detail how much compensation would be awarded, how it should be awarded, and who should be eligible for the compensation.
According to a legislation analysis, Texas, New York and Vermont have considered granting reparations to African Americans. Those reparations could take the form of cash, housing assistance, lower tuition, student loan forgiveness, job training or investments into the Black community.
Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat who supported the bill said he wished the measure was more than a study.
“If the 40 acres and a mule that was promised to free slaves was delivered to the descendants of those slaves today, we would all be billionaires,” Bradford said.
“I hear far too many people say, ‘Well, I didn’t own slaves, that was so long ago.’ Well, you inherit wealth – you can inherit the debt that you owe to African Americans.”
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