A statewide reparations report conducted in California has detailed the deep roots that slavery has had on the state over the years.
The first-of-its-kind report was released on Wednesday and explained how the enslavement of Blacks in California eventually evolved over time into the racist social structure that exists today. Slavery has directly resulted in years of political neglect, unfair policing of people of color, and other lasting economic and social disparities.
The report was produced by the civil rights arm of the California Department of Justice in collaboration with the reparations task force. It comes as the United States continues the conversation regarding slavery reparations. However, given the large scale of the slave trade in the country, the task will likely take years just to pinpoint who or what causes would receive the funds.
“Every state has some history of harm in the African American community,” said attorney Kamilah Moore, who is also a reparatory justice scholar who serves on California’s reparations task force along with eight others. Established in 2020, the group has spent the last two years studying the impacts of the slave trade in California.
In March, the task force ruled that eligibility for any future compensation would be based on ancestry and granted strictly to the descendants of enslaved and free Black people who resided in the country before the end of the nineteenth century. The task force will publish a second report next year outlining a proposal for possible reparations.
Though California prohibited slavery when it joined the United States in 1850, it also looked the other way when enslaved people were trafficked into the state. California also supported southerners who owned slaves. Two years after joining the U.S., lawmakers passed a fugitive slave law that allowed people fleeing slavery to be captured and sent back to their captors.
“I hope that this report is used not only as an educational tool, but an organizing tool for people not only in California but across the U.S. to educate their communities,” Moore told the Associated Press.