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Reparations Task Force chair explains California’s legacy of racism

This week the first-of-its-kind California Reparations Task Force released a nearly 500-page report that details a history of discrimination against African Americans from colonial times through the present day. “This system of white supremacy is a persistent badge of slavery that continues to be embedded today in numerous American and Californian legal, economic, and social and political systems,” the interim report found. | RELATED | Read the California reparations report hereKCRA 3 on Friday spoke with attorney Kamilah Moore, the chair of the task force, about the groundbreaking report. Moore said the task force has been involved in a “study phase” for the past year cataloging the harms against African Americans. Now that the report has been released, the nine-member group is transitioning to what she called a “developmental phase” that will involve determining what reparations should “look like in light of the harms that we studied.” In the Q&A below, Moore addressed misconceptions that California was a “free state,” talked about California-specific harms like redlining and actions that are being taken now to abolish involuntary servitude in California prisons.What is the main thing you would like our viewers to know about the interim report?Kamilah Moore: “The California Reparations Task Force interim report that we just released on June 1 is significant for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s the most extensive report cataloging the harms against the African American community since the Kerner Commission, which was commissioned by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1968. And so this nearly 500-page report is 13 chapters long. And in each chapter, there is a state breakdown that talks about the California state’s responsibility for perpetuating harms against the African American community. And then in each chapter, there’s also a nationwide breakdown that clearly demonstrates the federal government’s responsibility in perpetuating harms against the African American community. And in this report, we also have some preliminary recommendations as our final report isn’t due to the Legislature until July of next year. But yes, there are some preliminary recommendations that people can learn about, advocate for and the state Legislature can even start acting on now.”I counted 95 bullet points for recommendations and we’ll go through some of those in a moment. But what are some of the findings specific to California vs. nationally? Kamilah Moore: “So really on in the process, the California Reparations Task Force, we have been holding virtual hearings on the substantive topics on the African American experience starting with the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the institution of U.S. slavery and onward. But in September of last year, we invited people to provide expert testimony on California’s role in maintaining slavery, for instance. So very early on in this process, we learned as a task force California’s role. I think the dominant narrative is that people say California entered into the Union as a free state. We never had slaves. But fortunately, we tackled that miseducation very early on in the process and that’s also reflected in the early chapters of this report. Where despite California entering the union as a free state in 1859 that was truly only in name. There was still slavery in areas of California, particularly in the gold rush era. And two years after California was admitted into the union as a free state the California state Legislature implemented a fugitive slave act in 1852. So what that meant was that if you were a free Black person in California you could be deported back to the South to be reenslaved or in some instances reenslaved in the state itself.” Going through the recommendations from the report, they really show the intersection of so many issues. Decisions on where to put highways affects housing, affects environmental and mental health, education and more. What do you want people to know about how so many of these areas build on each other and are interrelated? Kamilah Moore: “Yes, absolutely, so if you see in our key findings, you’ll see how – to your point – these policies were built upon each other and interacted with each other to create this system of oppression that impacted African Americans in particular. For instance, there is discrimination in federal mortgage policies known as redlining which was here in the state of California and was actually funded by the federal government. The California state and local governments destroyed Black homes and communities through park and highway constructions, through urban renewals and other means like disproportionate use of eminent domain against African American homeowners. In this report, you’ll see a whole section on housing discrimination and how the federal government and the state and local governments actually conspired together to discriminate against African American homeownership through eminent domain and through redlining policies, urban renewal and park and highway construction.” The key findings section talks about ending legal slavery in California today and brings up policies involving people who are incarcerated. Can you explain what the report means by legal slavery? Kamilah Moore: “I’m really glad that you asked me that because one of the preliminary recommendations in our report was to support ACA-3, which is a legislative bill that just passed through the Senate and now it will be on your ballot (Editor’s Note: The bill recently passed the Public Safety Committee but is still working its way through the Senate). Essentially, ACA-3 would abolish involuntary servitude in California prisons. Because just like the federal government has the 13th Amendment which abolishes slavery except for if you’re punished for a crime, the California constitution also contains that same exact provision. So there are community organizers and formerly incarcerated people like Samual Brown who was incarcerated for over 25 years in California. He’s been out for 140 days or so. He actually wrote ACA-3 while he was in prison. … And so the California Reparations Task Force saw how that type of legislation aligns perfectly with the idea of reparations for African Americans. Because as you know the system of prisons and policing is rooted in the institution of chattel slavery.”How would you say the report has been received and what will you expect next?Kamilah Moore: “I think the report has been very well received – a lot of media attention. We received a lot of well-wishes from the community, people saying that they can’t wait to read this with their friends, with their family, with their professional networks. I’m seeing leaders of educational institutions saying they want to incorporate the report into their syllabi and curriculum during the regular school year. It was 500 pages long so this report can be utilized for years to come.”What changes with the final report? What will it focus on? Kamilah Moore: “The final report will contain our final recommendations, which will include a comprehensive reparations plan. Which would include an entire section on compensation. We’ve actually hired five people to serve on the task force, an economic consultant team, and they’re going to get to work this summer to figure out what does compensation look like based on what we call state-specific harms. The final report, in addition to having our final recommendations, a section on compensation, there will also be a section on international human rights law. Because of the statute that created this task force, AB 3121, mandates that our final recommendations must comport with international human rights law standards.” What do you think California should do vs. the federal government?Kamilah Moore: “The report is structured in a great way, as I said earlier because for each chapter there is a state-specific breakdown and then a nationwide breakdown. So it really clearly elucidates for the reader the state of California’s role in perpetuating the particular harms as outlined in the report and then the nation’s particular role in perpetuating the harms. I hope that the state of California holds itself accountable to the harms as outlined in the report. And provides reparations to the community group under international human rights law standards. And so a comprehensive reparations plan under international human rights law standards would include five forms of reparations. Compensation is one, rehabilitation is the other, restitution is a third, satisfaction in the fourth and guarantees of non-repetition is the fifth.And for the federal government, what I want to make clear is that although California is making history in atoning for its harm against its African American community that does not leave the federal government off the hook. And reparations for African Americans or the American freedmen community is first and foremost a federal responsibility. And so I hope that this report is used not only as an educational tool but an organizing tool that is leveraged for executive action on the federal level.”

This week the first-of-its-kind California Reparations Task Force released a nearly 500-page report that details a history of discrimination against African Americans from colonial times through the present day.

“This system of white supremacy is a persistent badge of slavery that continues to be embedded today in numerous American and Californian legal, economic, and social and political systems,” the interim report found.

| RELATED | Read the California reparations report here

KCRA 3 on Friday spoke with attorney Kamilah Moore, the chair of the task force, about the groundbreaking report.

Moore said the task force has been involved in a “study phase” for the past year cataloging the harms against African Americans. Now that the report has been released, the nine-member group is transitioning to what she called a “developmental phase” that will involve determining what reparations should “look like in light of the harms that we studied.”

In the Q&A below, Moore addressed misconceptions that California was a “free state,” talked about California-specific harms like redlining and actions that are being taken now to abolish involuntary servitude in California prisons.

What is the main thing you would like our viewers to know about the interim report?

Kamilah Moore: “The California Reparations Task Force interim report that we just released on June 1 is significant for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s the most extensive report cataloging the harms against the African American community since the Kerner Commission, which was commissioned by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1968. And so this nearly 500-page report is 13 chapters long. And in each chapter, there is a state breakdown that talks about the California state’s responsibility for perpetuating harms against the African American community. And then in each chapter, there’s also a nationwide breakdown that clearly demonstrates the federal government’s responsibility in perpetuating harms against the African American community. And in this report, we also have some preliminary recommendations as our final report isn’t due to the Legislature until July of next year. But yes, there are some preliminary recommendations that people can learn about, advocate for and the state Legislature can even start acting on now.”

I counted 95 bullet points for recommendations and we’ll go through some of those in a moment. But what are some of the findings specific to California vs. nationally?

Kamilah Moore: “So really on in the process, the California Reparations Task Force, we have been holding virtual hearings on the substantive topics on the African American experience starting with the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the institution of U.S. slavery and onward. But in September of last year, we invited people to provide expert testimony on California’s role in maintaining slavery, for instance. So very early on in this process, we learned as a task force California’s role. I think the dominant narrative is that people say California entered into the Union as a free state. We never had slaves. But fortunately, we tackled that miseducation very early on in the process and that’s also reflected in the early chapters of this report. Where despite California entering the union as a free state in 1859 that was truly only in name. There was still slavery in areas of California, particularly in the gold rush era. And two years after California was admitted into the union as a free state the California state Legislature implemented a fugitive slave act in 1852. So what that meant was that if you were a free Black person in California you could be deported back to the South to be reenslaved or in some instances reenslaved in the state itself.”

Going through the recommendations from the report, they really show the intersection of so many issues. Decisions on where to put highways affects housing, affects environmental and mental health, education and more. What do you want people to know about how so many of these areas build on each other and are interrelated?

Kamilah Moore: “Yes, absolutely, so if you see in our key findings, you’ll see how – to your point – these policies were built upon each other and interacted with each other to create this system of oppression that impacted African Americans in particular. For instance, there is discrimination in federal mortgage policies known as redlining which was here in the state of California and was actually funded by the federal government. The California state and local governments destroyed Black homes and communities through park and highway constructions, through urban renewals and other means like disproportionate use of eminent domain against African American homeowners. In this report, you’ll see a whole section on housing discrimination and how the federal government and the state and local governments actually conspired together to discriminate against African American homeownership through eminent domain and through redlining policies, urban renewal and park and highway construction.”

The key findings section talks about ending legal slavery in California today and brings up policies involving people who are incarcerated. Can you explain what the report means by legal slavery?

Kamilah Moore: “I’m really glad that you asked me that because one of the preliminary recommendations in our report was to support ACA-3, which is a legislative bill that just passed through the Senate and now it will be on your ballot (Editor’s Note: The bill recently passed the Public Safety Committee but is still working its way through the Senate). Essentially, ACA-3 would abolish involuntary servitude in California prisons. Because just like the federal government has the 13th Amendment which abolishes slavery except for if you’re punished for a crime, the California constitution also contains that same exact provision. So there are community organizers and formerly incarcerated people like Samual Brown who was incarcerated for over 25 years in California. He’s been out for 140 days or so. He actually wrote ACA-3 while he was in prison. … And so the California Reparations Task Force saw how that type of legislation aligns perfectly with the idea of reparations for African Americans. Because as you know the system of prisons and policing is rooted in the institution of chattel slavery.”

How would you say the report has been received and what will you expect next?

Kamilah Moore: “I think the report has been very well received – a lot of media attention. We received a lot of well-wishes from the community, people saying that they can’t wait to read this with their friends, with their family, with their professional networks. I’m seeing leaders of educational institutions saying they want to incorporate the report into their syllabi and curriculum during the regular school year. It was 500 pages long so this report can be utilized for years to come.”

What changes with the final report? What will it focus on?

Kamilah Moore: “The final report will contain our final recommendations, which will include a comprehensive reparations plan. Which would include an entire section on compensation. We’ve actually hired five people to serve on the task force, an economic consultant team, and they’re going to get to work this summer to figure out what does compensation look like based on what we call state-specific harms. The final report, in addition to having our final recommendations, a section on compensation, there will also be a section on international human rights law. Because of the statute that created this task force, AB 3121, mandates that our final recommendations must comport with international human rights law standards.”

What do you think California should do vs. the federal government?

Kamilah Moore: “The report is structured in a great way, as I said earlier because for each chapter there is a state-specific breakdown and then a nationwide breakdown. So it really clearly elucidates for the reader the state of California’s role in perpetuating the particular harms as outlined in the report and then the nation’s particular role in perpetuating the harms. I hope that the state of California holds itself accountable to the harms as outlined in the report. And provides reparations to the community group under international human rights law standards. And so a comprehensive reparations plan under international human rights law standards would include five forms of reparations. Compensation is one, rehabilitation is the other, restitution is a third, satisfaction in the fourth and guarantees of non-repetition is the fifth.

And for the federal government, what I want to make clear is that although California is making history in atoning for its harm against its African American community that does not leave the federal government off the hook. And reparations for African Americans or the American freedmen community is first and foremost a federal responsibility. And so I hope that this report is used not only as an educational tool but an organizing tool that is leveraged for executive action on the federal level.”

Reparations Task Force chair explains California’s legacy of racism Source link Reparations Task Force chair explains California’s legacy of racism

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