Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Board in San Francisco is open to comprehensive restitution proposal

Every qualified Black adult would get payments totaling $5 million, personal debt and tax obligations would be eliminated, annual incomes of at least $97,000 would be guaranteed for 250 years, and San Francisco homes would cost merely $1 per family.

These were a few of the more than 100 recommendations put out by a committee established by the city to investigate how to make amends for centuries of slavery and systemic racism. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who heard the report for the first time on Tuesday, enthusiastically endorsed the suggestions made, with some noting that money shouldn’t be a barrier to the city taking the correct action.

Unaware that the legacy of slavery and racist policies keeps Black Americans on the bottom rungs of health, education, and economic prosperity, and that they are disproportionately overrepresented in prisons and the homeless population, a number of supervisors expressed surprise at the pushback they heard from politically liberal San Franciscans.

“Some of my constituents who went crazy over this proposal, we don’t do or wouldn’t do it for other people. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the highly GLBT Castro area, stated that it is something we would do for our future and for everyone else’s communal future.

The detail and scope of the proposed reparations plan, which was published in December, are unparalleled in the entire country. The committee hasn’t examined the plans’ costs, but detractors have blasted the concept as being both politically and financially untenable. According to a reasonable estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, it would cost every non-Black family in the city at least $60,000.

Although while the board unanimously expressed support for reparations on Tuesday, the body still has the option to accept, reject, or modify any or all of the suggestions. In June, a final committee report is expected.

Several supervisors have argued in the past that the city’s severe deficit and the current slowdown in the tech industry prevent it from making any significant reparations payments at the moment.

When more people came up to speak, Tinisch Hollins, vice-chair of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, made reference to those remarks and numerous others warned the board that they would be keenly watching what the supervisors do next.

We are creating a national precedent here in San Francisco, I don’t need to remind you of that, Hollins said. “A real commitment to what we need to move things ahead is what we are asking for and what we are expecting,” they said.

Cities and institutions are increasingly considering paying reparations for slavery. California established the first reparations task team in 2020 and is currently attempting to determine how much is owed.

The federal level has not embraced the concept.

Almost 50 years ago, Black people in San Francisco made up more than 13% of the city’s population; today, they make up fewer than 6% of the city’s population and 38% of its homeless people. The Fillmore District once thrived with Black-owned night clubs and stores until government reconstruction in the 1960s pushed out inhabitants.

It’s unclear how many of the city’s less than 50,000 Black residents would qualify. Potential requirements include being a city resident for a specific amount of time and descended from someone who was “incarcerated for the disastrous War on Drugs.”

The payouts, according to critics, are absurd in a state and city that never kept Black people as slaves. Opponents often contend taxpayers who were never slave owners should not have to pay money to persons who were not enslaved.

Advocates claim that perspective ignores a wealth of information and historical proof that, long after U.S. slavery was abolished in 1865, government policies and practises continued to increase the rate of incarceration of Black people, deny them access to loans for homes and businesses, and limit where they could live.

A municipal reparations plan will never have enough funding, according to Justin Hansford, a professor at the Howard University School of Law, but he still supports any efforts to “genuinely, really, authentically” make things right. And money is part of that, he added.

Money is the language that people understand, he continued, so if you’re going to try to apologise, talk in that language.

The head of the San Francisco Republican Party, John Dennis, opposes reparations but says he would be in favour of a serious discussion on the issue. He does not see the $5 million payments under discussed by the board as one.

Patrick Huston
Patrick Huston
As a senior editor, Patrick is a professional who is in charge of putting out business news. As a senior editor, Patrick is likely to be in charge of the duties of junior editors and writers, make sure the content is correct and high-quality, and work with other departments to make sure the business news is published on time. Patrick knows a lot about business and the latest market trends. He uses this knowledge to choose and edit stories that are both interesting and useful to readers. He also works with reporters and analysts to come up with insightful pieces that help readers keep up with the latest business news. Patrick is a very important part of keeping the public informed and interested in important business issues. He is passionate about journalism and strives for excellence.

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