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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition Special: A closer look into California's reparations report

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.

Wealth gap

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.

Education

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.

Health

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.

Genealogy

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.