Activist Groups in Favor of Reparations Dominate the Discussion in California

By Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.
October 5, 2021 Updated: October 6, 2021

A number of activist groups in California are calling for more government involvement and community engagement in discussions regarding reparations, while those willing to publicly criticize the idea appear to be few and far between.

Tiffany Quarles of the National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants (NAASD) said the organization sent a letter to the state’s Reparations Task Force requesting it push for President Joe Biden to sign an executive order establishing a presidential reparations commission.

“NAASD has already had the opportunity to sit down with the Biden administration to request this executive order and we would appreciate your assistance with calling on the president to move on this for the purpose of helping the African American community,” Quarles said at a recent hearing.

The Reparations Task Force, which held its first meeting on June 1, has been given two years to draft an apology to the descendants of slaves and recommend ways the state might compensate them. It was established on Sept. 30 last year when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3121 into law. Then Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) authored the bill. She is now Secretary of State in Newsom’s administration.

The latest virtual public hearings were held on Sept. 23 and 24, where nine appointed members of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans fielded questions and concerns from groups and individuals about reparations and racial disparities. There was no discernible pushback during the hearings about the idea of reparations itself, even during public comments.

Khansa Jones-Muhammad, a.k.a. “Friday Jones,” a commissioner on the L.A. Reparations Advisory Commission and co-chair of NAASD’s L.A. chapter, urged the state task force to help increase awareness of the reparations discussion.

NAASD Los Angeles has drafted proposals to city council members for discretionary funds to be allocated for marketing campaigns for future hearings to increase community engagement, she said.

“There is an opportunity to create a wide variety of benefits in addition to compensation for generations to come. The creation of whiteness and the dehumanization of blackness has cost this nation its humanity and greater GDP by stifling ingenuity and economic growth,” Jones-Muhammad said.

Equality Debate

Pierre Wilson, national director of the Blexit Foundation, told The Epoch Times that the organization, including its founders Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum, are opposed to idea of reparations for slavery.

“We’ve always been about being treated as equals. But that’s it—equals. We’ve never advocated for special treatment. We do not believe special treatment is helpful,” he said.

“If you start giving us special treatment and more, and built-in head starts and all these other things, you are now technically oppressing another group. You’re now penalizing another group because of their skin color. So, it is going backwards. It’s just reversing the roles,” Wilson said.

Civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the past spoke about equality, not about “keeping us separate,” he said.

If reparations are really about helping people, then it’s about getting them on their feet, “not keeping them dependent,” he said. “Handouts keep people dependent. This is not going to be a long-term solution for minority Americans.”

Meanwhile, Tasha Henneman, chief of policy and government affairs for PRC (formerly the Positive Resource Center) in San Francisco said her group supports the goals of the task force.

“I know I’m preaching to the choir here,” Henneman said, “but, while some policy improvements have led the way to addressing the many disparities that blacks and African American individuals face in their daily lives, there’s still a long way to go as we seek to apply equity and parity across all communities, ultimately creating a more just society.”

Henneman, who directs PRC’s Black Leadership Council, called for “sweeping policies that address the historical legacy of slavery and systemic racism.”

Darris Young of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), a group known for “transforming public health practice to advance health equity,” according to its website, said 35 African American-led organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area in May are developing a “black housing strategy.”

Young said that health disparities and inequities which were “ever so present” during COVID-19 pandemic, should be addressed with monies from the state’s surplus budget and federal COVID relief funds.

In contrast, Wilson said he believes a focus on reparations is harmful to the black community.

“I think it’s a joke. It’s a sham. It’s a way to continue the victim narrative of black America. We do not need reparations. Nothing happened to us, so we don’t need to make people to pay who had nothing to do with slavery. It’s ridiculous, in my opinion,” he said.

“To me, it’s just another way to treat us like we can’t figure things out on our own. It’s just embarrassing.”

“When do we stop? History is full of people who have been done wrong at one point, so who are we paying? What’s the next thing? Who else are we giving reparations to?” he added.

Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.