For months, we have been discussing how Democratic politicians would deal with massive reparation demands after campaigning for years on such payments being a moral imperative. As proposals rose to as much as $5 million a person, Newsom went silent. Now, California’s Reparations Task Force has issued recommendations for reparation payments as well as a slew of other benefits for black citizens. Newsom has finally responded by what sounded like the common birthday card that reads “I couldn’t afford a present so I gave you this card instead.” With California billions in the red, Newsom appears to be sending up a trial balloon on offering heartfelt apologies, promises of reform, and no cash.
In addition to the cash payments, the Task Force called for eligible residents to receive $13,619 for each year of residency due to racism in health care; $148,099 or $3,366 for each year between 1933 and 1977 for housing discrimination; and $2,352 during the 49-year period between 1971 and 2020 for mass incarceration and racist policing.
Newsom told Fox News Digital that reparation”is about much more than cash payments.” Instead, he stressed:
“we’ve already been hard at work addressing: breaking down barriers to vote, bolstering resources to address hate, enacting sweeping law enforcement and justice reforms to build trust and safety, strengthening economic mobility — all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond. This work must continue.”
Good luck with that.
Citing “reforms” already in place makes the Task Force look like the ultimate bait-and-switch. It makes black voters look like chumps given recent polling showing a massive shift in the Black community on the question: 77 percent of Black Americans now support reparations.
For years, Newsom and other Democratic politicians have campaigned on reparations and that bill has now come due. A card and an apology is not going to cut it.
Just last week, speakers demanded cash in large amounts. Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Cal.) declared that “Reparations are not a luxury, but a human right long overdue for millions of Americans. We are demanding that the government pay their tax.”
She was not talking about a heartfelt apology.
Nor were others at the hearing.
In prior hearings, speakers have been asking “where’s the money.” Some warned the Democratic task force that they would not vote for the party unless they received money before the 2024 elections.
San Francisco’s board of supervisors is also facing the same expectations after a recommendation of its African American Reparations Advisory Committee to give $5 million to each eligible Black resident as reparations.
Some balked at even that figure. Reverend Tony Pierce asked “Where’s the money? Where’s the cash? Where’s the check?” “$5 million, San Francisco’s already made a move. $5 million is nothing.”
Some congressional Democrats have pushed for similar federal reparations and passed a bill out of the House Judiciary Committee in 2021 that failed to receive a floor vote. BET founder Robert Johnson has called for $14 trillion in federal reparations.
Even Disney has gotten into the act with a controversial children’s episode in which cartoon children demand reparations.
The years of calls for reparations have created a greater expectation, even an urgency. One well-known California activist declared: “It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free. We’re not asking; we’re telling you.”
As I wrote earlier, this bill has come due for Newsom and he now appears to be making the long-awaited pivot away from payments. As expected, it is a bit late for the pivot after politicking on the issue for years to gain votes.
As one minister declared at the hearing last week, “Tell Governor Newsom we’re coming. He knows me.”