Black Californians could enjoy child support forgiveness, free college, free health care, fewer police, and a long-term "truth and reconciliation commission" should Golden State lawmakers pass the proposals outlined this week by the state's Reparations Task Force.
Following a 2020 law to study the subject, a panel of left-wing academics and policymakers on Wednesday released their findings on how California can remedy the harm against the state's black residents caused by slavery and discrimination. All black Californians are eligible for the benefits of the program if they can prove they are "descendants of African Americans enslaved in the U.S. or of free Black people living in the country before the end of the 19th century." A new state agency, called the California African American Freedmen Affairs Agency, would provide genealogical tests for residents.
The 492-page report lists the task force's "preliminary findings and recommendations." The final report is scheduled to be released in July of next year.
Here are eight of the most radical proposals:
1. Child support forgiveness
The panel recommends that California eliminate overdue child support owed to the government by black parents who no longer have custody of their children. Black Californians would also no longer need to "reimburse the state for current or past government assistance" related to child support.
The panel also recommends the elimination of all interest payments on past child support owed by black Californians.
Under current California law, families that receive government assistance such as food stamps must deduct the cost of those programs from court-ordered child support payments. If an individual in California does not pay child support, he is essentially fined for forcing his child to use state services. The logic of the current law is that the state should not pay for financial support that a parent otherwise provides.
2. Establish a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission,' destroy ‘anti-black memorials and monuments'
The task force recommends the establishment of a commission named after the 1996 South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created following the end of apartheid to identify human rights violations against the majority black population during their time living under white-only rule. The task force also recommends the state "create forms of acknowledgement and apology for acts of political disenfranchisement" and destroy all "anti-Black memorials and monuments," presumably identified by the task force.
Pervasive "police violence against and extrajudicial killings of African Americans occur in California as they do in the rest of the country," the panel concludes. As part of an effort to help heal the state's black community, the panel recommends the state fund art that acknowledges the "trauma of state-sanctioned white supremacist terror."
3. Free college education
The task force recommends the state eliminate tuition for all California colleges, as well as offer funding to create black-owned K-12 schools and colleges. Black Californians should also receive scholarships to "cover four years of undergraduate education" at presumably any university in the country, the task force finds.
The task force also recommends that the state "identify and eliminate racial bias and discriminatory practices" in standardized tests, including the SAT, LSAT, and the state Bar exam, with no elaboration on how this would be done. To further "antiracist" education in the state, all California schools must adopt a curriculum that "advances the ideology of Black liberation."
4. Trees in black neighborhoods for ‘shade equity'
In the name of ending so-called environmental racism, the task force recommends the state fund the "planting of trees to create tree shade equity."
5. Less McDonalds, more Whole Foods
The task force wants to "reduce the density" of fast-food restaurants, and promote the opening of "healthy retailers," such as Whole Foods and farmer's markets, in majority-black neighborhoods.
6. Decrease the police
The task force calls for an end to "discriminatory policing and particularly killings, use of force, and racial profiling" of black Americans. That means a review of every incarcerated black Californian "to determine whether they have been wrongfully convicted or have received longer or harsher sentences than white people convicted of the same or similar crimes."
The task force recommends fewer police in black communities. The "scope of law enforcement jurisdiction" must be curtailed and replaced with "more funding for prevention and mental health care." Law enforcement should also issue fewer citations at liquor and tobacco stores in black neighborhoods.
7. Free health care
Black Californians should be entitled to free health care, the task force finds. All black Californians who suffered from the country's "anti-Black health care system" should be entitled to financial compensation as well.
To create more black doctors and health care professionals, the task force recommends that the state engage in more affirmative action programs and a "race-conscious public health policy."
8. Cash payments to close ‘racial wealth gap'
On top of all the new forms of welfare and assistance outlined in the task force report, black Californians are entitled to cash reparations intended to shrink "the racial wealth gap." The exact dollar amount is not specified.
The state must also provide funding and "technical assistance" to "Black-led and Black community-based land trusts to support wealth building and affordable housing," as well as raise the minimum wage beyond the state-mandated $15 per hour. The task force also recommends the creation of a state fund "to support the development and sustainment of Black-owned businesses."
Update 8:45 p.m.: This piece has been updated since publication.