San Francisco newspaper endorses reparations for Black Californians: ‘Long overdue’
A San Francisco newspaper argued there was “no doubt” California owed Black Californians compensation after the statewide reparations task force released its final recommendations last week.
In its 1,100-page report, the task force argued that slavery and historical injustices against Black Americans have created lingering consequences on society today. They recommended certain qualifying Black Californians could receive up to $1.2 million in reparations.
The San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board agreed a debt was owed, arguing “Yes, California owes Black residents reparations,” in a Thursday article. The paper dismissed critics of the costly proposal as the state faces a $32 billion budget deficit.
“Anyone who bothers to read the task force’s report, however, will see in its expansive documentation of racism and discrimination targeting Black Californians, the obvious imperative for remediation. To argue otherwise is cheap sophistry,” they complained.
A sign demanding reparations in California.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The journalists cited Prop. 14, a 1964 state ballot initiative, that allowed residents to refuse to sell, lease, or rent their residential properties to other persons as an example of how Californians legalized racism and segregation. The amendment was overturned two years later by the state’s supreme court as violating the 14th Amendment.
“California’s legacy of racism doesn’t fall solely on the shoulders of a few evil corporations or a handful of despotic politicians or isolated hate groups. Rather, basic civil rights were put to a public fiat and ordinary residents of California overwhelmingly chose to use the power of the ballot box to make racism and segregation the law of the land. In doing so they undeniably affirmed and took ownership of decades of racist policies that preceded the Prop. 14 vote — and of the harm those policies caused,” the board wrote.
They further argued that racist housing policies put Black Californians at a disadvantage by keeping them in bad neighborhoods with poor resources and conditions.
“These harms were tangible and consequential. Their repercussions endure. Black Californians are entitled to remediation. And if there was any debate over who is responsible for paying the tab, the legacy of Prop. 14 ends that discussion,” the board wrote.
California’s reparations task force also recommended an end to child support debt and an end to the police enforcement of public disorder offenses such as public urination.
In the final report released last week, the group claimed “discriminatory” laws “have torn African American families apart,” and that one effect of that is the “harms” caused by “the disproportionate amount of African Americans who are burdened with child support debt.”
The Democratically-controlled state legislature will now determine what aspects of the report, including cash payments for Black residents, it will approve or deny.