San Francisco’s Planned Reparations for Black Residents Slammed  

A proposal to pay $US5m ($7.2m) each to black Americans in San Francisco as compensation for slavery and “systematic repression”, would cost more than $US50bn ($72bn), and has drawn harsh criticism from leading black politicians. The reparations committee of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, in a document that could influence future reparations debates in Australia, has proposed to wipe all debts, provide an annual stipend of $US97,000 ($139,000) for the next 250 years, and bestow a one-off lump sum of $US5m to each individual eligible. “While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted chattel slavery or segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression of black people were codified through legal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement,” the draft stated.  “San Francisco’s reputation as a progressive gem is undermined by its legacy of mistreatment, and targeted racism against Black Americans,” it added.

Eligible residents would need to have claimed African American heritage for at least 10 years and satisfy at least two of eight other criteria, including being “personally or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs” or being a “descendant of someone enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865.” The city’s budget was around $US14bn ($20bn) last year and was home to around 45,000 African Americans in 2020, suggesting the policy would cost more than $US50bn if only 10,000 applied.  “Reparations is the extraction of money from people who were never slave owners to people who were never slaves,” said black broadcaster Larry Elder, who ran unsuccessfully on the Republican ticket for governor of California in 2021. The proposal emerged around Martin Luther King Day, a federal public holiday in the US to commemorate the death and achievements of the late black civil rights activist.

Florida Republican congressman Byron Donalds said the proposal was a distraction from “lowering the cost of living, a historic homelessness crisis and the opioid epidemic. San Francisco’s Democratic leadership would rather divide their constituents further under a pretence of racial equity”. Donalds says the proposal is a distraction from the real issues at play in San Francisco. Details of the Australian government’s voice proposal could culminate in demands for similar reparations to indigenous Australians based on the argument British settlers stole their land in the 18th century without compensation. “This has to be about reparations. It has to be about giving some power to Aboriginal communities,” the ABC’s indigenous affairs editor Bridget Brennan said last year when discussing what the voice, might entail. In 2018, Buzzfeed published a 21-minute video analysis of how reparations could be paid to indigenous Australians through a special property tax.

Source: The Australian

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