San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Tuesday to hear public views on a plan to provide reparations to black residents.
The initial recommendations call for a one-time, lump-sum reparations payment of $5 million to each eligible recipient, wiping out personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family.
The draft was unveiled in December 2022 by the SF African American Reparations Advisory Committee (AARAC) after two years of work.
Black residents are eligible if they meet two of eight criteria, which include being born or migrated to San Francisco between 1940-96 and having 13 years of proof of residency, being able to prove descendancy from someone enslaved before 1865, being ‘personally, or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs’ and proof of being ‘displaced, or the direct descendant of someone displaced, from San Francisco by Urban Renewal between 1954 and 1973.’
During the hearing, enthusiastic San Franciscans lined up to take the microphone and express their support, with some singing their support. The AARC offered a free lunch for all attending.
Sergeant Yulanda Williams, the president of the police association Officers for Justice, urged the Board to provide reparations, stating that it was time to do the right thing and make black residents whole.
The Board members were unanimously supportive of the plan, with some expressing shock at critics who said it was financially ruinous.
However, even supporters of the plan, such as Supervisor Myrna Melgar, admitted that they have not worked out how to fund it.
The Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin, said the $5 million idea is unworkable, but some of the other ideas are interesting.
At least two of Peskin’s colleagues, Supervisors Joel Engardio and Hillary Ronen, have previously expressed similar views, stating that the city probably couldn’t afford $5 million individual reparations payments.
Critics of the plan argue that the payouts make no sense in a state and city that never enslaved black people, and taxpayers who were never slave owners should not have to pay money to people who were not enslaved.
Supporters argue that this view ignores a wealth of data and historical evidence showing that government policies and practices worked to imprison black people at higher rates, deny access to home and business loans and restrict where they could work and live.
The idea of paying compensation for slavery has gained traction across cities and universities, and in 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force.
However, the idea has not been taken up at the federal level. San Francisco’s black population once made up over 13% of the city’s population, but over 50 years later, they account for less than 6% of the city’s residents and 38% of its homeless population.»San Francisco Board of Supervisors Hears Public Support for Reparations Plan to Provide $5M to Black Residents«