Sacramento, CA – The California Assembly has passed a bill aimed at establishing a task force to figure out how to pay reparations to African Americans.
The bill, sponsored by 71-year-old California Legislative Black Caucus Leader Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), passed through the State Assembly with a vote of 56-5 on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
If approved by the Senate and California Governor Gavin Newsom, the measure would enable the state to establish an eight-person task force to launch a study into determining who would be eligible for compensation and how they would be paid.
The panel would be up and running by June of 2021, according to the Associated Press.
“The discriminatory practices of the past echo into the everyday lives of today’s Californians,” Weber told the Associated Press. “We seem to recognize that justice requires that those who have been treated unjustly need the means to make themselves whole again.”
UCLA School of Law professor and attorney Lisa Holder said that the matter must “be framed around the issue of continuing racial injustice that started back in 1619 when Africans were stolen from Africa and brought here as enslaved people,” the Associated Press reported.
Although slavery was abolished 155 years ago, black people continue to be victims of racial discrimination, Holder said.
When the matter is framed in that way, “you don’t get into this messy, unintelligible notion of who is directly linked to a slave,” she added.
Meanwhile, Black Entertainment Television (BET) Founder Robert Johnson, 74, demanded that the federal government devote $14 trillion in taxpayer dollars to provide reparations for slavery, CNBC reported.
Johnson said that it is time for a “wealth transfer” on a national level, and that doing so will help bring Americans together.
“Wealth transfer is what’s needed,” America’s first black billionaire told CNBC. “Think about this. Since 200-plus-years or so of slavery, labor taken with no compensation, is a wealth transfer. Denial of access to education, which is a primary driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a wealth transfer.”
Paying reparations would be a way for white people to acknowledge the “damages that are owed” to African Americans due to slavery and the “wealth transfer to white Americans away from African Americans,” Johnson added.