A bill signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom is looking to provide reparations to black people in California. As an unintended consequence, it could provide white people with reparations as well, according to Newsweek. Newsom reportedly seeks to go about this by forming a task force to explore where reparations will be allocated.
In a March 2022 report, the task force recommended that those deserving of reparations should specifically be descendants of enslaved black Americans or a “free black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.”
As many as 2.8 million African Americans, who make up less than six percent of the California population, would receive reparations, according to a report by California’s Task Forces To Study and Develop Reparation Proposals For African Americans.
The five areas the task force is looking into reportedly include “housing discrimination, mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of black businesses and health care.”
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Nkechi Taifa, an attorney and founder and director at Reparation Education Project, worried that white Americans could take advantage of tragic events that occurred in the past to try to prove their ancestry and claim reparations.
“Most of that ancestry might be probably from rape of black women and girls,” Taifa said, adding that this was “problematic.”
Jovan Scott Lewis, a task force member, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a geographer who researches reparations, claimed that there will not be a race-based requirement for California reparations but that the person has to prove they are a victim.
“It’s hard to imagine that there will be a white American who would be able to claim that they have an ancestor who was enslaved [and] who would also then say that they identify with the community of black Americans that has been victims to the ongoing lingering effects,” Lewis said.
Still, according to Taifa, these types of reparations are simply not enough because white Americans could potentially qualify for them.
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