Reparations Task Force: State Could Owe Black Californians Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

California’s task force on reparations has begun putting dollar figures to potential compensation for the various forms of racial discrimination, generational pain and suffering Black Americans experienced in the state. 

The rough estimates by economic consultants may mean that hundreds of thousands of dollars could be due to Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved ancestors. However some politicians on the task force indicated the reparations would be a difficult case to make.

Task force member and state Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat representing South Los Angeles, told an audience at public meetings in Los Angeles over the weekend it would be a “major hurdle” to pass any reparations plan in the Legislature. 

“For a state that didn’t have slavery, don’t think they’re going to be quick to vote on this final product of this task force,” he said. “We need to stay unified, we need to be together. We aren’t always going to agree, but we have to put forth a unified front.” 

Meeting in the California Science Center Friday and Saturday, the nine-member state-appointed group invited a team of economic experts to describe reparation ideas in financial terms. It was the group’s first gathering since June, when the task force released a 500-page report on the state’s history of slavery and racism.

In March the task force voted to recommend to state leaders that if California makes some form of reparations available, they should go to Black Californians who can establish lineage to enslaved ancestors, rather than to those who are more recent immigrants, or descendants of recent immigrants. The reparations could be in the form of cash, grants, tuition assistance, loans or other financial programs, the task force said.

At this meeting, the task force described several scenarios for which Black Californians could receive monetary compensation.

Reparations calculations

For instance, the task force considered redlining, a practice of denying mortgages to Black homeowners and of devaluing residential property in primarily minority neighborhoods.

The four economic consultants calculated that each Black Californian who lived in the state between 1933 and 1977 experienced a “housing wealth gap” of $223,239, or $5,074 for each year in the period. The experts said that number — which is the difference between the average value of all homes in California and the value of Black-owned homes  — could be considered for reparations.

Such calculations are far from final, the consultants said, and there is no total estimate, though it is based on all 2.5 million Black California residents today, they said. The consultants said they haven’t calculated how many people would qualify for each type of reparation. 

The consultants are William Darity, an economics professor, and A. Kirsten Mullen, a researcher, both at Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Kaycea Campbell, an economics professor at Pierce College in Los Angeles; and William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO and a Howard University professor. 

For another example of injustice, mass incarceration, the consultants calculated potential income lost by incarcerated Black Californians from 1971, the beginning of then-President Richard Nixon’s announced “War on Drugs,” until today. The economists pointed to many studies showing Black people were incarcerated far beyond their numbers in the general population.

Without discussing guilt or innocence, the economic consultants estimated that incarcerated Black residents were out $124,678, or $2,494 a year, for unpaid prison labor and years of lost income. The consultants mixed into the calculations the average salaries of California state workers and the $15,000 that some Japanese Americans received in reparations after their internment during World War II, from 1942 to 1945.  

A ‘rough’ analysis

One of the most pervasive forms of racial injustices Black Californians faced is disproportionate health outcomes. The economic consultants noted that Black Californians have the shortest life expectancy of any racial group at 71 years, which is 7.6 years shorter than whites. Black Californians also faced higher death rates from cancer than other racial groups, and Black mothers were four times more likely to die in childbirth than any other group. 

Although there is no actual price tag on a year of life, for statistical purposes some economists use a $10 million valuation for a person’s entire life. This group of economic consultants calculated the dollar amount of the gap in life expectancy for Black Californians to be worth $127,226 per year.

The consultants’ dollar estimates are “rough,” Campbell said Friday.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters


  1. I read a law firm has the paperwork together and will sue and stop reparations.

  2. OK, once again class pay attention.

    1. Calif. was a free state.

    2. Any supposed slaves are the legal responsibility of the Spanish or Mexican Governments.

    3. For well over a 100 years “all” people were told to reduce fats, sugars, and increase vegetables. The black community was told and ignored it.

    As a health professional, I am telling you there are ethnic issues at work here that wave the middle finger at any none black or hispanic members about health and life style.

    e.g. Hey you whitey ….. don’t be telling me how to live or what to eat.

    How many centuries will have to pass to get it.

    Oh, and by the way Greeks are owed $Billions in reparations from the Persians… (think that one will fly?)

  3. Or better yet, what about the descendants of the 600,000+ Union soldiers killed in the Civil War trying to FREE the blacks (who probably had a hell of a better life here in the US than in Africa?) Are you going to include those (now) millions in your reparation scheme? And where is this money coming from? I suggest from the wealthy politicians like Pelosi, Newsom, Brown, Feinstein and Boxer.

  4. I won’t waste my time reading about such drivel but I will comment. We have had generations of affirmative action —- reverse discrimination —— in our nation in which millions of jobs have been filled by unqualified blacks, millions of unqualified blacks have been admitted to colleges and universities, our education system has been dumbed down to accommodate blacks, etc. etc. etc. This has all been an insult to the black population in general, effectively saying that they are too dumb to make it on their own. There are many blacks in our society who have been very successful without handouts and without reverse discrimination against other races. They have become doctors, lawyers, politicians — through hard work and study. On the other hand, more money has been dumped into an effort to educate areas with high concentrations of blacks than into most white areas ——- all to no avail. You can lead a horse to water but you can/t make him drink it! As far as constantly blaming white America for the slavery of their ancestors, let us keep in mind that blacks were sold into slavery by other blacks, the first registered slave owner in the USA was a black man by the name of Johnson and hundreds of thousands of white Americans died to end slavery in the USA —— unlike Africa where much slavery still exists today. I only wonder if this nonsense of reparations to appease lazy, unresponsible blacks will ever end.

    • Correct. The US has spent more than 25 trillion dollars since 1965 on Johnson’s Great Society programs. Statistically in every category, blacks are worse off today than in 1965. You can’t make someone want something.

Speak Your Mind