San Francisco's Board of Supervisors formed something called the African American Reparations Advisory Committee (AARAC) in December 2020. The group has been meeting since June 2021, researching ways to pay reparations to Black San Franciscans. In December, AARAC sent a draft proposal of a very thorough reparations plan to the Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, and the city’s mayor, London N. Breed. The eye-opening item in the comprehensive draft is a lump-sump $5 million payment. Of course, this has made some conservatives very, very angry.
Leo Terrell, a Black conservative from California (who, it appears, would not be eligible) lambasted the plan on Fox News’ Hannity, calling it outrageous, unlawful, and unconstitutional. “I'll be the first lawyer to fight against this,” he said. Larry Elder, a former California gubernatorial candidate who is also a Black conservative (also apparently ineligible), said the measure is an "extraction of money from people who were never slave owners to be given to people who were never slaves,” and added the stupidest lie conservatives keep repeating: "Slavery was a Democrat institution. Why don't Democrats pay? Jim Crow was a Democratic institution. Why don't Democrats pay?”
First of all, if you believe Republicans are still the “Party of Lincoln,” a man who founded the Internal Revenue Service and income tax to help pay for a war about a state’s individual right to extract free labor from people… please give me your credit card numbers along with the three on the back, you mark. House Republicans are trying to abolish this stuff right now.
Second of all, yes, it is definitely an “extraction of money from people who were never slave owners to be given to people who were never slaves.” As made quite evident in countless scholarly, journalistic, and literary works—and the AARAC’s 60-page draft—the extent to which Black people have been subjugated did not end with slavery. The draft says plainly, “reparations are being demanded by members of the Black/African American communities not to remedy enslavement, but to address the public policies explicitly created to subjugate Black people in San Francisco by upholding and expanding the intent and legacy of chattel slavery.”
Thankfully, this isn’t the only proposed reparations program—Boston is researching its own and California is exploring a statewide one—because if you aren’t from San Fran, you likely won’t meet two of the required eight criteria for eligibility. It’s expansive enough that pretty much any actual San Franciscan over the age of 18 would meet the marks, but restrictive enough that Black folks in Georgia can’t just hop on a plane and get to the money. Which is fair—this is for folks from the Bay.
It’s worth noting the plan is very well thought out. AARAC gives a myriad of reasons why reparations are due to its residents, including the fact that the city was a Klu Klux Klan stronghold. It also names a handful of ways beyond payment to make amends. There are 10 different economic empowerment suggestions that also include financial literacy courses, recruiting a Black-owned bank into San Francisco, supplementing income to match the median in the area, and introducing tax credits and debt forgiveness programs. The plan seems great. In June, a final draft will be submitted for the powers that be to decide whether to implement it. Hopefully they make like roulette and put the money on Black.
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