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California Is Spearheading A Reparations Campaign For African Americans

By Brooke Sinclair

  • California will break down Black employee data by lineage as a potential path to reparations
  • The average white family has roughly 10x the amount of wealth as the average Black family 

For the first time in California and American history, the state will break down Black employee data by lineage. A historic and transformational leap forward for California residents and Americans descended from the progeny of the nearly 4 million African Americans enslaved in the U.S. who were designated the political status of American Freedmen after emancipation. Today, the average white family has roughly 10 times the amount of wealth as the average Black family and in recent years the state has been working to determine whether the state will pay reparations to Black Californians, particularly those who are descendants of slaves. California is taking steps to change that. 

Why This Matters: Making the American Dream an equitable reality demands the same U.S. government that denied wealth to Blacks restore that deferred wealth through reparations to their descendants. Especially, when you consider that white college graduates have over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates.

Similar to the differences between tribes in Africa, descendants of U.S. chattel slaves are finally getting the federal recognition, isolated justice, and exclusive rewards they’ve lacked since the Civil War.  This year, the California Reparations Task Force affirmed lineage-based eligibility for state reparations, meaning only people who can prove they are descendants of slaves would be eligible.

As California goes so does the nation, the first state to recognize the difference between descendants of chattel slavery in the U.S. and Black immigrants of the diaspora who now call America home. “Black” American Freedmen are the reason the racial group of Black exists, and not leaving it as the derogatory nickname for copper-colored natives and slaves.

What’s Next: This legislation is a model for states and localities across the country seeking to take serious steps toward repairing the damage done to the identities and livelihoods of African Americans/American Freedmen for over 400 years. We can only hope that more states will pass similar legislation. The data being collected will be included in a public state report on or after January 1, 2025.

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