A task force in California to study and recommend reparations for Black Americans launched a process to address slavery and systemic racism during its inaugural meeting on June 1.
“We are here today because the racism of slavery birthed an unjust system and a legacy of racial harm and an inequality that continues today in every aspect of our life,” Secretary of State Shirley Webber, who wrote the legislation that created the task force, told her fellow assembly members in the virtual meeting.
Weber called for “folks to acknowledge the harm that’s been done. The harm that continues to be done.”
“That it’s not that far of a difference what happened to my father in Hope, Arkansas and what happened to George Floyd and what happens to so many others in this country,” Weber further said.
Weber’s father was a sharecropper who “despite all of his honest efforts that were there, he was still being stepped on, and when he stood up for himself, his life was threatened.”
“Your task is to determine the depth of the harm, and the ways in which we are to repair that harm,” Weber told the California Task Force to Study Reparations for African Americans.
The task force will study the state’s involvement in slavery and will develop proposals for what reparations might look like for the descendants of those who were enslaved.
According to broadcaster KPBS, the proposals may include direct cash payments, subsidized education or healthcare, and assistance for down payments on housing.
The task force is the first of its kind in the United States. Its nine members, appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders, include descendants of enslaved people who are currently prominent politicians, lawyers, and academics.