SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California’s Reparations Task Force wrapped up a two-day long meeting Wednesday on the effects of slavery and government decisions on Black Californians.
“You call it reparations that’s needed, we call it justice,” said Lawrence Lucas, with the United States Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees.
Wednesday’s focus centered around the wealth gap between white and Black workers in the state. Experts noted a savings gap also exists because of a wage gap.
“Look at it from the viewpoint of a Black man with the same education, living in the same area with the same background, every hour they’re 22% behind,” said economics Professor William Spriggs, with Howard University.
Other witnesses Wednesday spoke about disparities in wages, with Black Americans historically making less to do the same job as their white colleagues.
“Banks and corporations have engaged in lending and hiring practices that helped to solidify patterns of racial inequality,” said University of Texas history Professor Jacqueline Jones.
Others testified to the constant displacement of Black communities, the theft of Black-owned land, and the modern-day devaluation of Black-owned homes, which they say contributes to the gap.
As the task force explores reparations, experts said California’s budget isn’t big enough to provide reasonable, financial compensation. Professor Thomas Craemer estimates, at a minimum, a payout of more than $350,000 for each descendant.
The cost could be roughly $14.7 trillion.
“Instead, California could exert pressure on the federal government to provide federal-level reparations. After all, it was the federal government that allowed slavery to exist in the United States,” said University of Connecticut public policy Professor Craemer.
While Craemer’s estimate includes descendants of slaves, the task force is in ongoing discussions about who exactly will be eligible for reparations.
“I’m fearful of having a very isolationist perspective on reparations in this process, where reparations only goes to a tiny sector of the community who can directly trace and document their descendancy,” said task member Lisa Holder. “I have concerns about that very, very narrow construction.”
No action was taken at Wednesday’s meeting. They will again meet in December.