KPBS Midday Edition Special: A closer look into California's reparations report
S1: A special program today on the lingering harms of U.S. chattel slavery.
S2: Reparations for the institution of slavery is a specific and sacred political project.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. We'll talk about health disparities.
S2: Black Californians and black Americans in general live sicker and die younger.
S1: And the wealth gap and reparations and education.
S2: Because when this boat rises for black folk , it rises for everybody.
S1: Then how to begin tracing one's own lineage ? That's ahead on Midday Edition. Any report from the State Reparations Task Force connects the beginnings of chattel slavery in the United States and lasting harms it caused to the oppression of black Americans to this day. It's the task force's first step in recommending how the state can repair that harm. Joining me now to talk about the report and its recommendations is Camila Moore. She is the chair of the California Reparations Task Force. Camilla , welcome back to the program.
S2: Thanks so much for having me.
S1: So this report is really a history book documenting the painstaking details of the dehumanization of enslaved people and making direct links to laws that have been passed since the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. in order to maintain a system of oppression of black people.
S2: This legislation matters for a few reasons , but primarily , you know , reparations for the institution of US chattel slavery is a specific and sacred political project that actually originated with the enslaved themselves , like Belinda Sutphin and Michael House. And that debt is a debt owed. And the descendants of those enslaved people in America are standing in the shoes of their ancestors to claim this unpaid debt.
S2: There's this dominant narrative that Jim Crow and racism didn't exist in California. Now , those dominant narratives have been pretty much altogether dispelled. And we learned very early on in the process how these institutions and these discriminatory policies have not only affected African-Americans in the past , but has also had ongoing effects on the outcomes of the African-American community today. But more particularly , if we if we don't want to point to a particular section in the report. Chapter 13 The last chapter on the wealth gap is amazing because California , the state of California and via this report is speaking boldly and you'll find in that chapter an assertion that the wealth disparity exists in this country because of systematic racial discrimination. That in and of itself is a badge , an incident of U.S. chattel slavery.
S1: And that term that you mentioned , badges of slavery , that's important to the conversation.
S2: And then later on in 1883 , the Supreme Court interpreted the 13th Amendment as empowering Congress to pass all laws necessary and proper for abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United States. However , we found through our research and this is outlined particularly in the introduction of our report , that throughout the rest of American history , including to present day instead of the federal government abolishing the badges and incidents of slavery , that being discriminatory policies and how it manifests to affect the lives of the African-American community. Instead of doing that , the United States , federal , state and local governments , including the state of California , perpetuated and created new iterations of these badges and incidents. We outlined racial terror , separate and unequal education , political disenfranchisement , housing , segregation , racism in environment and infrastructure , the pathologizing of the black family , control over creative , cultural and intellectual life , stolen labor and hindered opportunity. An unjust legal system , mental and physical harm and neglect. And then lastly , the wealth gap. Each of the chapters , as I just outlined , are considered badges in incidents of slavery.
S1: And to repair some of those badges of slavery. This report makes dozens of preliminary recommendations.
S2: That would also be the institution where , you know , reparations in the form is compensation , rehabilitation , restitution , satisfaction and guarantees of non repetition would be dispensed. There's some other preliminary recommendations in the report related to education. We noted in the report how African-Americans have been denied the human right to education for the majority of our existence in the United States. And so we came up with a few preliminary recommendations , one of them being that , you know , African-Americans who descend from chattel slavery will receive free public college tuition at public four year public colleges and universities in the state of California. There's also a preliminary recommendation in there that would require the state to allocate resources so that African-Americans can create their own schools to account for the fact that no African-Americans currently attend schools in segregated areas. And with school segregation comes underresourced schools. So African-Americans , by virtue of living in segregated areas , have to go to segregated schools. And those schools are under-resourced. Not only are those schools under-resourced. African-American children also have to navigate the precarious school to prison pipeline as well. And so we learned through our research that , you know , schools aren't necessarily safe for African-American children. So what does reparations look like ? What could it look like ? And that could potentially be the state allocating resources so that African-Americans can create their own schools where they feel safe and secure and where the curriculum reflects them as well. But we're also in the preliminary recommendation and related to education. We're also recommending no curriculum changes to the school systems that are actually still that exist now so that the curriculum is reflective of African-American history.
S1: And you are chair of California's reparations task force.
S2: It feels very affirming to my ancestors who experienced chattel slavery. And it also feels affirming because , you know , as an African-American descendant of chattel slaves , you know , there's every African-American I think has experienced. Right , confronting or being impacted by the lingering effects of chattel slavery , and namely confronting and being impacted by the badges and incidents of slavery. So it's been a very emotional , cathartic and personally rewarding experience for me.
S1: Earlier this year , the task force voted to define eligibility for reparations. They define it as descendants of an enslaved black person or of a free black person living in the U.S. before the end of the 19th century.
S2: AB 3121 You know , I noted this in our March hearing where we voted to affirm lineage based reparations as a standard for eligibility. Right. If you look at the statute , the provisions are lineage based. So for instance , you know , the state of California , by virtue of the statute , is required to execute a formal apology. And then it defines who the beneficiary class of that apology would be. Right. It doesn't say the state of California is required to apologize to all black people for slavery. It says verbatim. California is required to apologize to freed African slaves and their descendants. Those being the freed African slaves were freed by virtue of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and their descendants who became US citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment in 1868. So the statute , I think , was controlling by affirming a lineage based standard was so important.
S1: The task force's work with community groups , as you mentioned , to explore what state reparations might consist of has already begun. Here's a clip from someone who attended a meeting last week in Oakland.
S3: My father was born in Mobile , Alabama. My mom was born in Kansas City. They still remember Kojo Lewis , one of the last slaves to be brought over from West Africa.
S2: And so I think that's why it's so important for the task force to center community voices , because the community is supposed to be leading the charge around what reparations looks like. And so that's why throughout this year long process , some of the highlights for me are now always the public comment period , the public testimony and witness period , as well as the community listening sessions that we're having over the summer where we're increasing opportunities for the community to become more aware and engage with this process and for them to share with the task force what reparations looks like to them.
S1: I've been speaking with Camilla Moore. She is the chair of the California Reparations Task Force. Camilla , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thanks so much for having me.
S1: Over the next hour , we will be exploring four aspects of the report how oppression and discrimination of black people throughout the nation's history created a wealth gap , health disparities and the role of education and reparations , as well as the important work of tracing your family lineage. Right after the break , we'll talk with a leading economist about the wealth gap and what it would take to repair that damage. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to a KPBS Midday Edition special on Reparations in California. I'm Jade Hindman. Among the leading arguments for reparations in the United States is the need to close the nation's racial wealth gap. As evidence , economists often point to the massive disparity in personal wealth between white and black Americans. Estimates from the Federal Reserve's 2019 survey of consumer finances indicate that the average black household had over $800,000 less in net worth than that of their white counterparts. One of the leading voices on this discussion is Professor William Darity , Jr. A professor of African and African American Studies and Economics at Duke University. He is also co-author of the book From Here to Equality Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century. And he joins us now. Professor Darity , welcome to the program.
S4: Thank you for having me.
S4: And if we were to distribute that differential across individuals , it would amount to a gap in wealth per person between blacks and whites of approximately $350,000. So that if we were thinking about a family of four , as opposed to a household of approximately three people , for a family of four , the racial wealth gap would be essentially $1 million. The average level of wealth for a white household is in the vicinity of $980,000 , and it's closer to $135,000 for the average black household.
S4: But if we're focused on the racial wealth gap , then the amount is still quite large , but it's not as stunningly large. To close the racial wealth gap would require an expenditure of at least $14 trillion.
S1: There's been a lot of debate about what reparations would actually look like , whether that's direct payments or less liquid forms.
S4: One form is a cash payment , but there could be the provision of reparations as a direct payment in less liquid form. This could include the provision of people with a trust account or an annuity or some other type of endowment. The advantage of having a less liquid asset as the form of reparations is you create a greater assurance that people will be building wealth as opposed to simply receiving a flow of income. And you also would ensure that the funds would not necessarily be spent all at one time , which would preclude having a dramatic effect on inflation.
S1: In your book From Here to Equality , you argue that reparations should go to black American descendants of people enslaved in the United States.
S4: And that's the trigger that produces the existing racial wealth gap , because at the same time as the federal government was failing to provide the newly emancipated persons with the 40 acre land grants , it was providing one and a half million white families with a 160 acre land grants in the Western territories under the terms of the Homestead Act. And so today there is approximately 45 million living white Americans who continue to be beneficiaries of the Homestead Act land grants. So white Americans receive the 160 acre land grants per family. Black Americans received absolutely nothing. And that's the foundation for this huge disparity in wealth that we observed today because of the intergenerational transmission of resources.
S1: And , you know , a large part of this discussion is reckoning with the way discriminatory housing policies also impacted black households.
S4: The federal government emphasized to us the building by the distribution of land. Although it did that in a discriminatory fashion in the 20th century , the Federal Government has emphasized asset building via homeownership. And it also did the. In a discriminatory fashion. But all of those effects cumulatively are captured by the existing difference in wealth between blacks and whites , which is another reason why we focus on the wealth gap as the central target for a reparations program. Person Mullan and I and our book From Here to Equality have said quite plainly that the racial wealth gap is the best economic indicator of the cumulative effects of white racism in the United States.
S1: We're talking about historical precedents here , and we've talked about how housing discrimination contributed to the racial wealth gap.
S4: Probably the example that is most familiar to many people as a consequence of the anniversary last year is the Tulsa massacre. And the consequences of these massacres was not only the extensive taking of black lives , but the white terrorists also frequently seized on appropriated , black owned property. And so as a consequence , this widened the racial wealth gap.
S1: You've also argued that reparations would need to be facilitated at the federal level.
S4: The minimum amount of funds that would be required to eliminate the racial wealth gap is $14 trillion. The total combined budgets of all state and local governments in the United States comes to less than $3.5 trillion. The second reason is the federal government is the culpable party. The sets of policies we've been talking about that have produced the racial wealth gap are policies that have been engineered at the federal level. And so as a consequence , the federal government has the responsibility for eliminating the racial wealth gap through a reparations plan.
S1: We've seen a lot of political support for reparations.
S4: But that means that somewhere in the vicinity of about 35% are in favor. And so there has been a sea change in attitude just within the white community. You know , I'm not sure that this is something that's sustainable , but the momentum is pointing in the right direction. And it does open the door of the possibility for improving the level of support for reparations until we get into a zone where it becomes politically feasible.
S1: I've been speaking with economist and researcher William Darity Jr. Professor Darity , thank you so much for joining us.
S4: Thank you.
S1: As we've been hearing reparations and the forms they can take cover a wide range of areas. And one of those is education. The state's Task Force on Reparations recently started holding community listening sessions in order to get feedback on what shape reparations may take. Here is what one community member had to say during their first listening session in Oakland back on May 28th.
S2: The cost of reducing class sizes so that our kids can get the personal attention and the support that they need. That , to me , would be one of the ways in which we can provide reparations , because when this boat rises for black folk , it rises for everybody.
S1: And much of what we hear when it comes to education and reparations. Highlights free tuition and scholarships for African-American Californians. And those are indeed part of the task force's report. But the conversation of education and reparations also includes how and what our children are taught inside the classroom across the state. Here to talk more about this is Professor Joyce King , professor of educational policy studies at Georgia State University and president of the Academy for Diaspora Literacy. She is also a former member of the National African-American Reparations Commission. Professor King , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thank you very much , Jay.
S2: As a native Californian and a grandmother who has children in California schools. I was really pleased that the recommendation that I made regarding black studies , curriculum and education for teachers was included in the Task Force Report.
S2: We know that the data shows that African-American and Hispanic students , other underrepresented groups , lag behind their potential. So we have a crisis in terms of young people not being able to read or do mathematics. So where the money goes should have some impact on student outcomes.
S1: As you mentioned , you provided testimony to the California Reparations Task Force.
S2: There's a lot of movement across the country incorporating ethnic studies courses , which is good. There's research that shows that ethnic studies courses have a very powerful impact on students. There's less attention being paid to what Black Studies is about and those potential benefits.
S1: One of the recommendations made in the interim report released last week highlighted the importance of teacher training , aiming to , quote , adopt new models for teacher development to improve teacher habits in the classroom.
S2: So we have a teaching force that's predominantly white. I worked in teacher education in California for 12 years when I was director of teacher education at Santa Clara University. And so I know the journey that teachers have to make to make up for their own miseducation. And teacher preparation is one of those areas that , again , we see efforts but not necessarily impact in terms of the benefits for students. So the whole field of teacher preparation at the college undergraduate level and the professional level needs to take into account these disparities that I've talked about for students.
S1: You were involved in a recent research project on education in Silicon Valley.
S2: My colleague and I , Dr. Amanda Tillman , and I were invited to do a study on black education by the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet of Silicon Valley. And we were asked to look at the community's definition of quality education. Students access barriers and policies that are hindering students success. We learned that black students in that particular area lagged behind white students in a. Asian students in their academic performance , we learned that parents and students consider teachers low expectations to be a problem. And we learned that the curriculum issues are a problem. And very poignantly , parents reported that they don't feel that educators protect their children from racism and discrimination in school.
S1: You point to the San Francisco Unified School District as a recent example of proposing a black studies curriculum that addresses some of what's been missing in our schools.
S2: It's really goes across the curriculum. And it's for the benefit of all students , not just students of African ancestry. What I know is that in October , the San Francisco Unified School District Board passed a resolution support for creating a K-12 black studies curriculum that honors Black lives , fully represents the contributions of black people in a global society and advances the ideology of black liberation for black scholars in the San Francisco Unified School Districts , although the resolution was passed , it has not been implemented.
S2: That has serious implications and it prevents us from being unified at the community level , societally and globally.
S1: In your testimony to the task force , you talk about how we need to re-examine how we teach students about the history of slavery in this country.
S2: But we don't start this story with slavery. We have to understand that the African-American story doesn't begin with slavery , even though it's represented that way and it's misrepresented in in accurate ways in textbooks and in popular consciousness. What we get is the story that Africans sold Africans. And so when I say we need black studies theorizing , we need to look at the scholarship that corrects those kinds of misrepresentations. And one of the ways that we can understand that very simply , there were no Africans then. There were no Africans selling their own brothers and sisters and selling other Africans , because people on the continent didn't see themselves as one people , nor did the French , Dutch , Portuguese , British see themselves as one people. So we have to go back and correct those misrepresentations that have really been used to justify slavery.
S1: And you've been working and advocating for improving education results for black and brown students for decades now. And I'm sure you've seen ideas like these really come and go.
S2: I have to be optimistic. I was a student activist in the sixties. And so I've seen change come and be resisted and change come again. So California definitely has an opportunity not only to address the legacies of slavery in education , but in all of the other areas that the commission looked at. And the fact that this is public , that people are being educated , that the scholarship is being taken seriously , and that the political community is engaged. That gives us hope. But we're in a context where the society is really divided. And so we have to find ways to reach across our divides and advance understanding. And so one of the things I teach in my classes is I say to my students , we're not looking for villains , we're not looking for victims. We want to understand how the system works so we can make it better.
S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Joyce E King , professor of educational policy studies at Georgia State University and President of the Academy for Diaspora Literacy. Professor King , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you.
S1: And we wanted to note Professor King joined us today as an individual scholar and not on behalf of Georgia State University or the state of Georgia. Black Californians live sicker and die younger. That's shorthand that public health experts sometimes use to describe the health disparities that affect black people in the state and across the country. They include higher maternal death rates and poor infant health outcomes , delayed cancer diagnosis and higher cancer death rates. Higher rates of hypertension , cholesterol , diabetes and obesity. The list goes on and on. As an associate professor in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley , Tina Saks studied the social detriments of those disparities from birth to death. She says black people suffer a greater disease burden than their white counterparts. I spoke with Professor Saks about some of the state reparations task force's preliminary recommendations related to health harms. I started by asking why the disparities exist in the first place.
S2: So this is complicated and has to do with the way that that American society really began , as well as the way it is structured and the present. So black people suffer from or face structural discrimination and so people are more likely to live in poverty , are disproportionately represented among homeless populations in California in particular. But across the country , black people are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are have environmental health problems. So high airborne particulate matter , which leads to disproportionate rates of asthma , live in housing. They're more likely to live in housing that has lead paint. So you see higher lead poisoning rates among black children. You see that particularly during COVID , you see that black people are overrepresented among what we call essential workers who are people who we cannot survive without , except their essential nature puts them on the front lines at risk of exposure to infectious diseases like COVID. So all across the board , black people face more health risks than other people in in the population. And these risk are compounded because there are so many of these problems that sort of cluster among black people. So black people are disproportionately affected by a whole range of things that make their health worse.
S1: California's reparations task force has a number of preliminary recommendations for reparations related to the mental and physical harms you mention experienced by black people in this country. And we'll touch on a few of those. So one is to create free health care programs.
S2: One are the biases that people encounter once they reach the the reach the provider's office. And to , of course , is the unequal access to care all around. So black people are more likely to work in fields that don't necessarily have adequate health care coverage or health care coverage at all , are working in fields that don't necessarily have paid sick leave. And so these kinds of health and health and social policy interventions that increase access to care are extremely important for making sure that people can have the kind of health care experience that they deserve and want , the kinds of health care treatment that could mitigate some of the the intergenerational consequences of this kind of racial harm.
S1: And another preliminary recommendation from the task force is to , quote , identify and eliminate the biases and discriminatory policies that lead to the higher rate of maternal injury and death among black women.
S2: I think that one might argue with that characterization , although we tend to think of it that way in this country. I think that , you know , not being able to guarantee that women and infants and people who who give birth to children , to infants not being able to maintain or , you know , really guarantee their safety is a huge problem for the largest democracy in the world. I think it says a lot about who we value in this country and whose lives we frankly devalue. And so that's why I think it's such a critical issue that must be addressed , certainly in terms of the the biases that women face. I think that that black people , black women who are delivering their babies often face a lack of credibility during the health care encounter. When women complain of pain , they are often thought to be drug seeking , drug users having a substance problem. People don't tend to take them seriously when they are recounting their own feelings or their own knowledge of their of their bodies. In much the same way that Serena Williams , who is obviously one of the most famous athletes in the world , when she told her physician when she was delivering her child that she knew she was having a pulmonary embolism , she was not believed. And clearly , this is a person who knows her own body. Right. So black women are not granted the same sense of credibility or ownership or agency over our own bodies in the same way that other people are. Our pain is not taken as seriously and our lives are really devalued. And I think that these kinds of encounters , particularly in the vulnerability of delivering a child , it really says a lot about who we are as a society. But also there certainly is the opportunity to improve and to do better. And health care providers , I think , around the country are trying to do just that.
S2: So it's very important to look backward to say that that that slavery is a particular kind of harm. And it had this sort of cascading effect through the generations , both economically , health wise , mental health wise , and every area of life. The first issue here is that we have to stop doing harm in the present. And the task force made several amazing recommendations as to how we can do that. So we really have to attack this from all different levels because it's all connected , right ? So the homelessness , poverty , living in neighborhoods that don't have the proper kinds of amenities for black people , all of those things are important. And reparations , monetary reparations could potentially mitigate some of the effects of that. And that would go a long way toward improving both the mental and physical health health of black Californians , as well as black Americans in general.
S1: I've been speaking with Tina Saks , associate professor in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. Thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you for having me.
S1: Still ahead , we continue our special program on reparations for the descendants of U.S. chattel slavery. With a conversation about how to begin tracing one's own lineage and the importance of genealogical work.
S2: When she puts her fingers in the soil , she can feel the blood of her ancestors there.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to a KPBS Midday Edition special on Reparations in California. I'm Jade Hindman. California's reparations task force has defined eligibility standards for reparations among black Californians as descendants of an enslaved black person or of a free black person living in the U.S. before the end of the 19th century. Being able to trace one's lineage is an important aspect of this conversation. So joining me with more on that is Evelyn McDowell , who is with the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage. She also gave testimony during the hearings , now cemented in the interim report. Evelyn , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thanks for having me. I'm very excited to be here.
S2: You want to start with knowing your oldest relative. You want to find your oldest living relatives. And when you find that person book time to talk to them immediately. You want to take your cell phone and record them. And you want to ask them who is the oldest person that they remember ? And you want to ask them their name as much as information as they can remember about them. And you want to get all of that information on tape. And then after you get all this information from all of your oldest living relatives , then you want to start verifying the data. You want to go back and. Okay. So she says she remembers her grandmother. And her grandmother was , you know , Jane Doe. You want to go back and find out that if she remembers the name correctly. You want to go back and find any records that you can about that person. And you just want to start by verifying all of that information.
S1: You know , some people may think the process of tracing family lineage is difficult because of the way black families were torn apart and sold during slavery. But you say it's actually not difficult.
S2: I'm not going to say it's not difficult. I think genealogy in and of itself is not the easiest thing. Okay. I mean , it takes some effort , but it's not impossible and it's definitely doable. That's what I would say. All you have to do is recognize that most of people of African descent , they didn't come here of their own free will. They came here as a result of being brought over here as enslaved people. If you remember that , you just need to get to somebody who was born before the end of slavery , who was of African descent. And so you can get to someone that was born in 1865. And doing that is not as difficult as one would think. And for me , in my case , it was my great grandmother just two generations away. My great grandmother was born in 1858 in Alabama. And so she was born enslaved. So I just had to get to those two generations.
S1: During the reparations task force hearings. You talked about the role government can play in helping people do this. Tell us a bit more about that.
S2: Well , I suggested that and I still do. We can do what's called reverse genealogy. Well , we know that the first time enslaved people in mass numbers were enumerated in the census on the 1870 census , for example. And we can ask the government to help by identifying those people on the 1870 census , for example , and then and doing reverse genealogy , finding out who their descendants are. Put this information in a database that can be accessed by African-Americans who are living today in.
S1: A listening session held by the task force. Recently , we hear stories from people about the importance of tracing their own lineage. Take a listen.
S2: We have been here for a very long time. And as one of the representatives that we held said , when she puts her fingers in the soil. She can feel the blood of her ancestors there.
S1: You know , and that is from one woman who found out that her family was a family of gardeners. And she was surprised to learn that because she herself is a gardener now.
S2: I get chills. I always do. I get chills when I think about people doing this work. And I hear these stories about sons and daughters of the United States Middle Passage. We have an annual conference which is going to happen this weekend , as a matter of fact. And we hear these stories all the time. It is so important not only for reparation purposes , to know who your ancestors are. I have the saying you don't know who you are until you know who they were. And , you know , I've I've learned so much about who I am , as , you know , as a person. I learned that my fourth great grandfather fought for the American Revolution. He was European. And I found out that my second great grandmother was a woman who was living on a plantation. She identified as white , and she most likely found someone who was a slave to have children with , which is my great grandfather. And I mean these things I had no idea until I did this work. And even as my even learning after my father passed away , he was a Montford Point Marine who was one of the that's the first class of Marines of color. And I had no idea that I was the daughter of someone of such significance in our history. And then , you know , learning about enslaved people and learning how this country would not be what it is today , have they not lived in and had they not been here and contributed their labor learning , you know , about redlining and how my family was affected by it. You know , so much of who I am and what I was born with , you know , the circumstances that I , I had when I was born came way , way before I lived. You know what happened to my great grandfather and my great great grandfather ? What happened to them ? Affect who I am today , where I'm born , where I was born ? The segregation in this country relegated my family to a place in Cleveland , Ohio , and which was segregated. You know , and this happened not just when I was born. It led up , I mean , years and years and years before I was born that led up to that particular moment. So it is extremely important for yourself , for your own self , love to know who you are and where you came from so you can identify how you fit in the history of this country. So I just think it is it's a good thing for us individually to do. It's a good thing for our country to do. How are we ever going to heal from this history of slavery ? I heard an estimated 10 million people were enslaved. How are we ever going to realize the harm , the effects that was done to those people in the womb that still exists in this country ? We can never , ever heal those wounds unless we understand how they were developed.
S1: I've been speaking with Evelyn McDowell , president of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage. Evelyn , thanks for joining us.
S2: Thank you so much for having me.
In June, the California Reparations Task Force released a groundbreaking interim report connecting the beginnings of chattel slavery in the United States and the lasting harms it caused to the oppression of Black Americans to this day.
KPBS Midday Edition presented a special on the report's findings, exploring in-depth the consequences of slavery in the present day.
Kamilah Moore, chair of the California Reparations Task Force, joined Midday Edition to talk about the report, the first step in recommending how the state can repair the harm to the descendants of enslaved Black people.
Among the leading arguments for reparations in the United States is the need to close the nation’s racial wealth gap.
As evidence, economists often point to the massive disparity in personal wealth between white and Black Americans. Estimates from the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances indicate that Black households averaged $800,000 less in net worth than their white counterparts.
Dr. William Darity Jr., professor of African and African American studies and economics at Duke University, is one of the leading voices on the wealth gap. He is author of the book "From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century." He joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk more about the wealth gap.
Much of what we hear when it comes to education and reparations highlights free tuition and scholarships for African Americans, which are some of the task force’s preliminary recommendations.
The conversation of education and reparations, however, also includes how and what children are taught in classrooms across the state.
Joyce E. King, professor of educational policy studies at Georgia State University, joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about her testimony to the task force, emphasizing the importance for a Black studies curriculum, as well as the need for improved teacher training.
Black Californians live sicker and die younger. That’s shorthand that public health experts sometimes use to describe the health disparities that affect Black people in the state and across the country. They include higher maternal death rates and poorer infant health outcomes, delayed cancer diagnoses and higher cancer death rates, higher rates of hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.
As an associate professor in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley, Tina Sacks studies the social determinants of those disparities. From birth to death, she says, black people suffer a greater disease burden than their white counterparts.
Sacks joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about some of the state reparation task force’s preliminary recommendations related to health harms.
California’s reparations task force has defined eligibility for reparations among Black Californians to include descendants of an enslaved Black person or of a free Black person living in the U.S. before the end of the 19th century. Being able to trace one’s lineage is an important aspect of the conversation. Dr. Evelyn A. McDowell, president of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage, who also gave testimony during the task force hearings now cemented in the interim report, joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about how to trace family lineage.