The decade's most triggering comedy
California’s slavery reparations task force sent its final report to the legislature this week after a chaotic last public hearing where advocates shouted for a national “divorce” settlement for black Americans.
The report from the California Department of Justice’s Reparations Task Force recommended several remedies for the country’s legacy of slavery.
The task force met for the last time on Thursday in Sacramento, where more than 200 people showed up, and several passionate California residents began shouting during the meeting’s public comment section.
“What do we want?” one man shouted.
“Reparations,” the crowd responded.
“When do we want them?” the man asked.
“Now!” the crowd said.
Reggie Romaine, a black man, spoke at the task force meeting and called for a national “divorce” settlement between black Americans and the country.
“This reparations task force, I appreciate y’all. But you all opened up a whole can of worms. I’m going to tell you this. Reparations is about repair. To me, I qualify. I’m going to tell you how you repair this,” Romaine said.
“First of all, America, from the evidence that they gave us, you’re guilty,” he said. “In 1619 we were eating fool food! You kidnapped us! Put a hate crime on us! That’s the first one. Now you came here with all the other atrocities. When you brought us here, you raped our men, women, and kids. So, therefore, you married us!”
“Don’t treat us like no cheap piece of meat!” Romaine told the board. “So, therefore, our last name’s ‘American!’ So now’s the time for a divorce! What do you get in divorce? You get half the money, half the land, alimony, child support, attorney fees, and everything else! So that’s what we want!”
Among the reparations task force report’s more than 100 recommendations for “critically needed law and policy reforms” are a formal apology from California, repealing the state’s affirmative action ban, and creating an agency to analyze claims from descendants of slaves.
The two-year report, which spans 1,100 pages, also suggested that monetary payments are owed to the descendants of African American slaves, amounting to $1.2 million for some people. The report did not recommend an exact dollar amount for every black Californian to receive from the state, but it did give several examples.
A 71-year-old black person who has lived in California all their life, for example, would be entitled to $967,000 due to health discrimination, the panel said. Black people who had suffered due to aggressive policing and prosecution in the “war on drugs” from 1971 to 2020 and lived in California during that time would be entitled to $115,000, the report said.
It is unclear whether the legislature will adopt any of the reparations task force’s recommendations, even though Democrats have a supermajority in the legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom supports the task force.
Newsom signed the law that set up the task force in 2020, as the country was reeling from violent protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.
However, Newsom has been careful not to comment on specific recommendations for reparations, including cash payments to black Americans.
“I am very mindful of our past,” he said Thursday.
Only about 30% of Americans say descendants of slaves should be repaid in some way, while 77% of black Americans say so, according to a 2021 Pew Research poll.