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Mini-Documentary: What Could Reparations Look Like?

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A collage with two people, and text saying: "What Could Reparations Look Like"
Chair of California's Reparations Task Force Kamilah Moore (left) and task force member and state Senator Steven Bradford (right). (Graphic by Sabrina Ilumin/KQED)

After 246 years of enslavement, what could reparations look like?

The debate around reparations has intensified in the state since the California Reparations Task Force delivered its landmark report in June. In the final episode of our series on reparations, we learn how citizens in other states have held organizations and communities accountable for past wrongs. We also hear from Black Californians who shared their perspective on what should be done to address systemic racism in the state.

The video is a look at what’s possible for reparations.

 

The California Reparations Task Force’s 1,100-page report had 115 recommendations for reparative measures. The report included recommendations for direct payments to eligible descendants of enslaved people. The task force released formulas and calculations for remuneration (PDF), including up to $115,260 — or $2,352 for each year of residency between 1971 and 2020 — as compensation for mass incarceration and discriminatory policing and sentencing.

Cash payments for Black Californians, though, isn’t popular with Californians. According to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Sunday, 59% of voters oppose cash payments, including 51% of white voters. And just 27% of the 6,000 registered voters polled feel the legacy of slavery has impacted Black people a great deal.

“They can be uncomfortable with the history, but you cannot deny the truth,” task force member state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) said at the final meeting. “Now is the time to face it, folks. To own up to the debt that is owed, to right historic wrongs here in California and across this nation. And we can do this. We can do this if we’re committed to it.”

It will be up to the state Legislature — as well as pressure from community organizers and the education of voters — to keep the momentum moving toward restitution.

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