California released a 492-page report Wednesday detailing the state’s past abuses of black Americans along with a comprehensive list of recommended actions, such as financial reparations and expanding election reforms. The report comes after extensive pressure by progressives to enact policies that give financial and legal advantages to black Americans to make amends for slavery and discrimination. California Democrats have seized on the report’s completion as an opportunity to enact an intersectional agenda.
The report includes extensive background about how slavery and racism have harmed black Americans in California. The report asserts, “Today, 160 years after the abolition of slavery, its badges and incidents remain embedded in the political, legal, health, financial, educational, cultural, environmental, social, and economic systems of the United States of America.”
The report proposes a wide range of reforms, including increasing voter registration for black Americans, expanding oversight over law enforcement agencies, and offering free health-care programs to eligible black Americans. The major policy recommendation of the report is to create the California African American Freedmen Affairs Agency, which would evaluate eligibility for financial reparations for descendants of slaves.
California’s report has been lauded by California progressive Democrats. California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, “This interim report is a historic step by the State of California to acknowledge the insidious effects of slavery and ongoing systemic discrimination, recognize the state’s failings, and move toward rectifying the harm.” (READ MORE: California’s Epic Homeless Nightmare)
The release of California’s report has led to speculation over whether other states and the federal government might take a similar approach. Democrats in Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, and New York have made efforts to reinvigorate proposals for studying reparations in their states. In 2021, Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee introduced HR 40 to Congress, which would establish a national commission to study reparations. Progressive organizations have placed pressure on the Biden administration to establish a federal commission to study reparations by executive order.
There is strong opposition to progressives’ reparations agenda. According to an NPR poll, two-thirds of Americans oppose monetary reparations for descendants of slaves. In a Fox News interview, Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens said, “reparations is not the way to right our country’s wrongs” and called reparations “redistribution of wealth, or socialism.” Owens concluded: “Once we lose our history we lose pride in our past, appreciation for our present, and a vision for our future.… If we’re sincere about repaying Black Americans for our loss, let’s give us back our history.”