Lawmakers in San Francisco heard several proposals on Tuesday by a city-approved reparations committee tasked with figuring out how the city can ‘atone’ for decades of racism by the city government.
The more than 100 recommendations included payments of $5 million for every eligible black adult, the elimination of all personal debt and tax burdens, a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and homes for just $1 per family.
Upon hearing the proposals, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voiced enthusiastic support for the ideas, with some saying that something as trivial as ‘money’ shouldn’t stop the city from doing the right thing. (what?)
Other supervisors were apparently surprised to that politically liberal residents pushed back against the ideas.
“Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people. It’s something we would do for our future for everybody’s collective future,” said supervisor Rafael Mandelman.
Black residents once made up more than 13% of San Francisco’s population, but more than 50 years later, they account for less than 6% of the city’s residents – and 38% of the city’s homeless population. The reparations attempt to rectify historic injustices by focusing not on slavery but rather the city’s discriminatory treatment of Black residents during the period of “urban renewal” in the 1950s through 1970s, which included the razing of a thriving Black neighborhood and the displacement of nearly 20,000 people in the name of “economic development”.
Adopting any of the recommendations would make San Francisco the first major US city to fund reparations, though the effort faces steep financial headwinds and criticism from conservatives. -The Guardian
“I don’t need to impress upon you the fact that we are setting a national precedent here in San Francisco,” said Tinisch Hollins, vice-chair of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee. “What we are asking for and what we’re demanding for is a real commitment to what we need to move things forward.”
Critics say the plans are absurd, particularly considering that California never enslaved black people, and that taxpayers who were never slave owners shouldn’t have to pay money to people who were never enslaved.
“This conversation we’re having in San Francisco is completely unserious. They just threw a number up, there’s no analysis,” said John Dennis, chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. “It seems ridiculous, and it also seems that this is the one city where it could possibly pass.”