Inside California’s Bizarre Task Force on Reparations

February 23, 2022 Updated: February 23, 2022

Commentary

California, despite being the wealthiest and highest taxed state in the nation, ranks at the bottom among states when it comes to the essential things people expect government to provide. It ranks at or near the bottom in crime, homelessness, schools, roads, and energy prices. This is because rather than focusing on such things, its progressive leaders prefer instead taking on controversial leftist dream projects, regardless of whether they have popular support.

This includes California’s incredibly costly attempts to unilaterally change the temperature of the globe by imposing massive taxes and regulations on energy, driving up the cost of everything in California. Or its incredibly costly COVID lockdowns and mandates designed to end a global pandemic. More recently, it includes a state law forming a “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans.”

The initiative comes despite the fact that reparations are supported by only 20 percent of Americans, according to a 2020 Reuters poll. Even Democrats only support it at a 33 percent level, and black people themselves only at a 50 percent level.

A House bill has existed in Washington for over 30 years to form a similar task force but has never made it to a full vote. On top of that, black people were never enslaved in California! California entered the Union as a free state in 1850. Only 6.5 percent of Californians are black, and the percentage of those with lineage to slavery is unknown.

But none of this matters to California politicians. With Democrats holding a super majority in both state houses and every statewide office, they are free to explore the progressive dream project their counterparts in Washington are not able to pursue. So, California has become the first state in America’s history to establish such a task force.

A review of the statute reveals how bizarre the task force is. The law asks the group to design reparations as a result of the “institution of slavery, including both the transatlantic and domestic ‘trade’ that existed from 1565 in colonial Florida and from 1619 to 1865, inclusive, within the other colonies that became the United States.” So, their job is to right wrongs that occurred starting almost 500 years ago and 3,000 miles away!

The task force consists of nine members, five of whom are appointed by the Democrat Governor, two by the Democrat Senate President, and two by the Democrat Assembly Speaker. All but one of the appointees is black. The other is Asian. The task force must “recommend appropriate remedies” for past slavery. So, the people who stand to benefit from the reparations are the ones making the recommendations. They would be “thanked and excused” from a jury reviewing the subject.

The law dictates that the task force be “diverse.” But we know that when the Left uses the term diverse, it simply means the more minorities the better. The absence of a single white person simply makes it more diverse. In fact, this form of diversity is codified in the law, which defines diverse as people who “represent the interests of communities of color.”

While the task force is supposed to “study” the history of slavery, the law itself already lays out specific conclusions. For instance, it states, “As a result of the historic and continued discrimination, African Americans continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships, including, but not limited to … having nearly 1,000,000 black people incarcerated [and] an unemployment rate more than twice the current white unemployment rate.”

Because the legislature has already drawn this conclusion, it appears the task force will be saved the job of explaining how slavery makes it more difficult for African Americans today to obey the law or get a job. Nor does it have to deal with the inconvenient fact that under President Trump, black unemployment was at just 5.4 percent before COVID, which is virtually full employment. It also does not have to explain the significance of 67 percent of black people being born into a single parent home. No, they are directed by the legislature to conclude that any issue facing the black community today is directly due to the history of slavery.

The law asks them to lay out reparations “for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States.” This leaves the task force with some difficult questions to answer in its report due this summer:

  • What is the justification for giving reparations to African Americans other than those who descended from slaves?
  • How does one prove that they descended from slaves?
  • Does it matter how well the person is doing? For instance, if Denzel Washington can prove he descended from a slave, does he receive a payment?
  • Who should pay the reparations? If “special consideration” should go to those who are descendants of slaves, should not also special consideration go to those who are descendants of slave holders when it comes to who must pay? In fact, why should anyone who has not descended from slaveholders have to pay?
  • What about others who are descendants of victims of injustice? Should not descendants of Holocaust survivors be compensated? Sure, it did not happen in California, but neither did slavery, and it is much more recent. Indeed, why shouldn’t anyone who can prove they have ancestors who suffered substantial injustice be permitted to stand in line?

Perhaps it is these thorny questions, and a lot more, that has kept the federal government and 49 other states from pursuing reparations. But, in California, there is no leftist cause too expensive or too divisive for its progressive leaders to take on.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Breslo
James Breslo is a civil rights attorney and host of the "Hidden Truth Show" podcast. He was formerly a partner at the international law firm Seyfarth Shaw and public company president. He has appeared numerous times as a legal expert on Fox News and CNN.