SAN FRANCISCO, Kalifornia (PNN) - January 16, 2023- San Francisco’s reparations committee has proposed paying each black longtime resident $5 million and granting total debt forgiveness due to the decades of "systematic repression" faced by the local black community.
The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee, which advises the city on developing a plan for reparations for black residents, released its draft report last month to address reparations - not for slavery, since Kalifornia was not technically a slave state, but "to address the public policies explicitly created to subjugate black people in San Francisco by upholding and expanding the intent and legacy of chattel slavery."
"While neither San Francisco nor Kalifornia formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy, and systematic repression, and exclusion of black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement," the draft states.
The draft plan includes a long list of financial recommendations for black San Francisco residents, including a one-time, lump sum payment of $5 million to each eligible individual.
"A lump sum payment would compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced, and will redress the economic and opportunity losses that black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy," the draft states.
To be eligible for the program, the applicant must be 18 years old and have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least 10 years. They must also prove at least two of eight additional criteria, choosing from a list that includes, "Born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and has proof of residency in San Francisco for at least 13 years," and/or, "Personally, or the direct descendant of someone incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs."
The plan also calls on the city to supplement lower-income recipients’ income to reflect the Area Median Income (AMI), about $97,000, annually for at least 250 years.
"Racial disparities across all metrics have led to a significant racial wealth gap in the City of San Francisco," it argues. "By elevating income to match AMI, black people can better afford housing and achieve a better quality of life."
The plan also seeks to establish "a comprehensive debt forgiveness program" that clears each eligible person’s student and housing loans, credit card debt, etc.
"Black households are more likely to hold costlier, riskier debt, and are more likely to have outstanding student loan debt," the draft explains. "When this is combined with lower household incomes, it can create an inescapable cycle of debt. Eliminating this debt gives black households an opportunity to build wealth."
The committee submitted the draft proposal to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Dec. 23.
"The African American Reparations Advisory Committee has not yet received any feedback from the Board regarding its position on the recommendations, or when the Board will schedule a hearing to formally discuss the Plan," the committee said in a statement.
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said he hopes the plan is approved.
"There are so many efforts that result in incredible reports that just end up gathering dust on a shelf," Peskin said. "We cannot let this be one of them."
Meanwhile, House Democrats are pushing to establish a reparations committee at the federal level.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) and 52 House Democrats proposed legislation last week seeking reparations and a national apology for slavery.