Recently, the City of San Francisco announced they would consider reparations for longtime black residents which would include 5 million dollar payouts and debt forgiveness. Critics have questioned how such an exorbitant sum was calculated as it would cost the taxpayers considerably. According to the chairman of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, there was no objective, mathematical formula used in the calculation of the payout.
The “reparations committee” in the city has concluded that these measures would be necessary to make up for racism. It is noted that slavery was never legal in California nor was San Francisco part of the South during the Jim Crow era. A document released by the reparations committee states:
Since the forced enslavement of people of African descent, there has been both resistance to the institution of chattel slavery and demands for redress thereof. The genetic, psychological, financial, and racial trauma experienced by Black Americans through US chattel slavery is one of the greatest crimes against humanity perpetuated by our nation. The practice of slavery in the US was uniquely violent and disruptive wherein African Americans were foundationally and systematically disconnected from knowledge of their geographies, languages, names, relatives, and historic cultural practices. Despite the efforts to yield other outcomes, Black people in America have consistently built loving families and communities, provided a blueprint for American cuisine, constructed our nation’s most notable monuments, and are the most influential creators of artistic expression globally through dance, music, fashion and language.
..While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement.
“There wasn’t a math formula,” Eric McDonnell the chairman of the reparations committee told the Washington Post. “It was a journey for the committee towards what could represent a significant enough investment in families to put them on this path to economic well-being, growth and vitality that chattel slavery and all the policies that flowed from it destroyed.” Yahoo reported on the details of the proposal:
Under the proposal, the $5 million payment would be made available to black residents who are at least 18 and have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least ten years. Residents must also meet at least two of eight other requirements. Among those requirements is that the resident is “personally, or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs” or is a “Descendant of someone enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865.”
Critics of the proposed reparations, such as John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, have pushed back on the committee. “This is just a bunch of like-minded people who got in the room and came up with a number,” the Republican said. “You’ll notice in that report, there was no justification for the number, no analysis provided. This was an opportunity to do some serious work and they blew it.”
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