SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California’s Reparations Task Force postponed its vote to decide who specifically will be eligible for restitution from the state.
In a 5-4 vote, the Task Force chose to table the vote as they remain tangled in debate over the topic.
“I don’t want to feel like we’re rushed into something,” said State Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena. “There have been brilliant arguments on all sides and I just think we can flush this out a little bit more.”
The postponement came after an hour’s worth of public comment and then an hour and a half of debate between members. The task force is trying to decide if eligibility requirements should be based on lineage or race.
Lineage-based eligibility would include Black Californians who can trace their ancestors back to direct descendants of slaves, but critics said that could be too difficult to prove and would exclude many.
Legal experts have said race-based eligibility could be too broad and might be struck down in court.
The chair of the task force said she supports the lineage-based standard and supports partnering with Black-owned genealogy and DNA companies to help.
“California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, is making a declarative statement that we care about the descendants of enslaved people, and we’re committed to repairing them,” said Chairperson Kamilah Moore.
Member Lisa Holder said she supports a tiered-eligibility system that begins with direct descendants of slaves but extends to others.
“In this moment, we have to embrace this concept that Black lives matter, not just a sliver of those Black lives, because Black lives are in danger —especially today,” Holder said.
The debate comes after the lawmaker who wrote the legislation that created the task force in the first place, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, made clear her idea of reparations were meant to go to direct descendants of slaves.
The task force spent the last seven months studying the harm from slavery, along with race and discrimination against Black Americans economically, socially and politically. Who is eligible and what reparations could be provided are two key parts of the task force’s responsibilities.
They have a deadline to report to the Legislature by 2023.
“I hope, I pray we come to common ground,” said Dr. Amos Brown, vice chair of the task force.
They will again meet in March.