California First-In-Nation To Introduce Slavery Reparations Package
Members of the California Legislative Black Caucus began Black History Month by announcing a package of reparations bills. It’s in an effort to repair Black Californians harmed by the legacy of slavery and anti-Black policies in the century and a half since emancipation.
The package marks the first in the nation’s effort to give restitution to Black Americans who have been harmed by centuries of racist policies and practices. Other states, such as Colorado, New York, and Massachusetts have commissioned reparations studies or task forces, but California is the first to attempt to turn those ideas into law.
What is the package of reparations bills?
A total of 14 bills ranging from policies that would increase homeownership for Black Californians, expanding access to education and training, and a formal apology by the state for human rights violations and crimes against humanity against enslaved Africans and their descendants.
The 14 measures are organized into primary categories. These include Education, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Health, and Business, which offer a comprehensive approach to addressing various societal issues.
Under the umbrella of Education, there are proposals aimed at fostering growth in STEM-related career and technical education programs at both high school and college levels. One measure advocates for “career education financial aid for redlined communities,” demonstrating a commitment to addressing disparities in access.
For Civil Rights, the proposals extend beyond property concerns. There is a suggestion to expand the CROWN Act, prohibiting discrimination based on certain hairstyles.
Regarding Criminal Justice Reform, the measures target specific issues within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). They seek to rectify practices such as the unauthorized banning of books, advocate for limitations on solitary confinement within CDCR detention facilities, and introduce grants to support community-driven initiatives aimed at reducing violence within family, school, and neighborhood contexts.
Within the Health category, there are initiatives to safeguard underserved or at-risk communities. One proposal mandates advance notice to community stakeholders before grocery stores shut down. Meanwhile, another aims to “make medically supportive food and nutrition interventions, when deemed medically necessary,” showcasing a commitment to holistic well-being.
In the Business category, a singular proposal stands out, targeting barriers that impede people with criminal records from obtaining occupational licenses. This measure reflects a dedication to removing obstacles and providing opportunities for those seeking reintegration into the workforce.