San Francisco considers slave reparations at $5 million each
A member of the city's Reparations Committee defends his proposal
A new policy proposal has demanded $5 million payouts for the descendants of slaves and the victims of ‘historical marginalisation’ in San Francisco. But is the West Coast’s cathedral of hyper-liberal politics ready to put its money where its mouth is? The recent launch of a guaranteed income programme for trans San Franciscans suggests it might be just the place to take up such a radical proposal.
Professor James Lance Taylor teaches African American studies at the University of San Francisco and is one of 15 members of the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee that wrote the proposal. I spoke to him to discuss the case for reparations.
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To qualify for a payout under this proposal, San Francisco residents must be a direct descendant of someone enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865, a victim of the ‘failed War on Drugs’ or a student at a segregated public school during the Jim Crow years.
It should be noted that California never actually had any slaves, but Taylor justifies it as follows: “California did not have slavery, California created a condition of permanent black fugitivity. […] And so the real injury to black San Francisco is more around housing and job discrimination, police brutality, economic impacts, health disparities. Those are the things that we can actually measure.”
As for his reparations criteria, they remain somewhat vague. For example, it includes beneficiaries who merely “identify as Black/African American” on public documents, which might encourage false claims. Nevertheless, Taylor assures me that historical precedent for reparations has been set, on which a policy could be based, first with Native American reservations and later with the Japanese survivors of internment camps.
Martin Luther King would have no time, Professor Taylor says, for the ‘colourblind’ progressives of San Francisco. King wanted to “cash a cheque” for Black Americans and to sanitise this part of his project is an insult to his legacy: “Reparations are the original black politics. We got distracted by integration. And now we’re coming back.”
The eye-watering figure of $5 million has dominated headlines. When I asked how the board came up with this number and how they justify it, Professor Taylor concedes that it is an arbitrarily large number based on a speech by John McCain on the cost of becoming ‘middle class’ in America. San Francisco might be expensive, but Taylor doesn’t have much more justification for catapulting a select few into the top tier of net worth in the US, let alone the world.
Who owes this debt to black Americans is a question that the reparations committee is adamant about: America. But not individual Americans, I ask? The case for reparations is only concerned with the relationship between the State and blacks, says Taylor. Any discussion of Americans whose ancestors were in no way implicated in the transatlantic slave trade is extraneous: “I don’t think any group should be referenced with regard to reparations, except the black or injured group. This is about what the State did to a segment of its citizens and the injury, the tort it caused, and how it can fix it and repair it.”
The logistical, economic reality of implementing the proposal remains hard to grasp. Taylor maintained that the payouts should not be primarily tax-funded but that this money would come from the American state: “Why can’t Biden give $80 billion to a black cause the same way he flippantly gave $80 billion to Ukraine?”
There is little hope, even from the architects of the policy, that reparations would heal the relationship between white and black people in America. Prof. Taylor concedes that, if anything, reparations “would create greater resentment” by reversing relationships between the poorest in places like San Francisco. But ultimately, his optimism for cashing King’s cheque is unwavering: “America is in a mess but America’s salvation would be reparations.”
Taxpayer-funded academic thinks state money doesn’t come from taxpayers. Says it all really.
He’s in fugitivity from reality.
Some poster noted below that for all African Americans at $5 million each, that is $168,000,000,000,000, one hundred and sixty eight Trillion $$$!
And it is FREE MONEY!!!
So GDP is $21 Trillion – so this free money dumped on the economy is 8 years GDP – and for FREE!!! We all will be rich!
Just by selling things to the ones who get this free $$$ all Americans will be rich! We will be the envy of the world! Do IT!!!!
Don’t worry, it will hyper inflate the policy of out existence. $5M sounds like a lot, but when it buys you little more than Big Mac meal, I doubt they’ll be crowing too much about it.
American blacks are wealthier than 90% of black people in the world.
You are being hustled. Why do you debate with a hustler?
pseudo academic with a chip on his privilidged shoulder wanting a cash payout because he’s a bigot. Race-Monging at its best (worst).
Reparations will almost certainly cause more problems than it solves. Is it a one-time payment or does each black person get $5 mill the day they are born, whether it’s in 2023 or 2050? Surely, it’s not fair to give eligible black people $5 mill in 2023 and give nothing to their kids born in 2024. If you try to make it fair and give it to future generations of black people, you create an entire industry of people popping out black babies at $5 mill each. It’s ridiculous.
If you give the $5 mill to black people the day they are born, it will likely be spent by their parents before they are 18. If you wait until they are 18, you will create an industry of grifters who will pay the family of children 50 cents on the dollar to get paid early.
There is a wealthy native band in Alberta, Canada that paid kids $50,000 each when they turned 18. It was a nightmare. It created huge issues with inequality and didn’t help anyone. Eventually they stopped doing it because this band had more social problems than almost every other native band, despite sitting on huge reserves of oil and gas.
You want to stoke resentment? You ain’t seen nothing until you create whole class of certain black people who get $5 mill for being born black.
This is a dumb idea invented by dumb people to solve a non existent problem.
Is it to be paid ‘pro rata’? Pecentage of black blood to be proven before pay out. Will the 100%’ers be happy if the 10%’ers get the same amount as them? Bloodshed on the horizon.
Don’t use logic to question stuff that isn’t based on it
The academic class is becoming more and more of a poison to the Western society, and should be either purged or brought down in terms of number and influence.
Too many people with too much free time and too much attention from rulers.
Well, fair dues to you Florence for keeping a straight face throughout the interview: you were very professional. Whereas I just got a fit of the giggles after about 30 sec in..
Pure magic stuff. Keep it up.
Another point that is frequently brought up in this discussion, is how much credit do we get for the $20T we’ve already spent?
The idea that MLK would approve this seems ludicrous to me.
Fugitivity? You couldn’t make it up. Oh hang on, I think he did.
Thank goodness I have white privilege and nobody will demand money from me because of the colour of my skin.
“Why can’t Biden give $80 billion to a black cause the same way he flippantly gave $80 billion to Ukraine?”
10% of Americans descended from slaves. Population of America is 330 million. Reparations of 5 million USD each. That makes 165,000 billion USD, not 80 billion USD. Sot the calculation of the good professor is out by a factor of 2,000.
Even if we go with the number of 33M people, then 33M x 5 M = 165 TRILLION not billions. Because 1M x 1M = 1 Trillion, not 1B! 1000 x 1M = 1B!
People have no idea, million, billion, trillion, whatever…. LOL!
The reparations proposal is far beyond that headline $5M.
That one-time $5M would go to a (large) subset of Black folks who live or have every lived in SF, are 18+ years old, and meet some broad qualifications. (So no, to answer one question, it’s not given at birth to every Black resident).
However, it would include boosting the income of every Black resident of San Francisco to at least the median income of the city (currently $97K) for the next 250 years. Yep, every Black resident for the next two and a half centuries, would automatically be at or above the median, no matter what they earn with their own efforts. Expect a mass in-migration (they might need to first live for 10 years in SF though; that’s required for the one time payment but vague for the permanent income boost).
It also includes giving Black residents of public housing the ownership of their housing for $1. Subsidizing Black home ownership. Converting various existing loan programs to grants for Black recipients. And page after page of additional perks and benefits. It reads as if every subcommittee studying one facet was competing with the other subcommittees for the most comprehensive benefits.
All the details (the final proposal but also video recording and/or transcripts of the meetings) are on the San Francisco city website. Download now, as I’m expecting it might disappear somehow later.
It’s massive and hard to believe it didn’t come from a parody website. This is what happens if you convene a group of identity politics activists (all Black and most of whom would also personally qualify for the benefits) and hand them a blank check, saying write in whatever you want, the sky’s the limit.
Meanwhile the State of California has it’s own Reparations committee, comprised of similar folks, who will submit their final proposal for the whole state mid year. The preliminary proposal aspects were only in the hundreds of thousands per person with complex formulas tied to various experiences. Like so much for every year lived in an “over policed” area, or one where there used to be red linings, etc. I would not be surprised if the SF group causes them to boost their figures.
These are all the damages being demanded from a late settled (by Americans) state that prohibited slavery. Just imagine the exponentially greater reparations to be demanded of states which accepted (much less fought for) slavery, and for a longer period.
And then there is the US Federal government, which has its own reparations committee, again with similar composition. We can expect some eye watering demands. Most of the recent proposals mentioned in the press by individual advocates (before that committee was authorized).were in the $7 to 16 Trillion range (there are 37 million decendants of slavery, so that would amount to the vicinity of a million bucks per family of 4), but that was before California and then San Francisco raised the bar.
Every thing which does pass will be cited as precedent for the rest of the proposals. As well as around the world.
There is no real chance of any of these proposals actually passing as written. Perhaps the goal is to aim absurdly high, as leverage to extract benefits which are historically unimagineable – yet still substantially reduced compared to the proposals.
It’s also likely that state and federal courts will rule against such a race-specific policy. The committees are trying to avoid that by framing reparations as due to specified individuals in compensation for individual harms, rather than due to race (although 100% of the benefits will go to only one race).
In California, these proposals are not likely to go down well with the largest identity group (Latinos), nor with the second largest (Caucasions) or the third (Asians). The voter referendum to restore affirmative action (‘positive discrimination’ for the Brits) university admission preferences – for all disadvantaged identity groups, not just Blacks – went down in defeat, largely because the Latino vote didn’t jump on board. Imagine how happy they will be to be taxed to give just Blacks (rich and poor alike) an incredible special bonanza.
But the effect is going to be to create a permanent atmosphere of resentment and entitlement. “Your own official committees said way back at the start of the century that you owe us enormously more than the relative pittance you have passed so far, so we’ll take those as a down payment but we’ll spend the rest of this century demanding that you make up the difference, with interest”
This is not going to help the Democrats.
It is not to help democrats – it is to make the Americans war with each other.
Shouldn’t the decedents of the Africans who sold the Africans as slaves be asked to chip in?
I think I will begin identifying as a black descendent of slaves living in San Francisco.
I responded to your post with a link to a YouTube video of that old Ki-Ora ad. But the moderators zapped it.
If I’m a trans descendant of slaves do I get a double-dip?
Slavery was a drain on the Southern economy, the (white) ruling class became lazy, they didn’t put their capital to productive (industrial) uses, instead, they relied on cheap (slave) labour for cotton-picking. The legacy of this economic under-performance persists today, as the Southern states are the poorest ones in the US. Everyone in the South today is worse-off because of the legacy of slavery. Maybe everyone down there needs compensation too?
Flo missed a trick. She should have asked Prof. Taylor how much he, as a man, owed Flo, as a woman, in the way of reparations for millennia of oppression.
I’d pay good money to hear how the good professor answered that one.
End of Days.
Only possible explanation.
End of common sense.
“The case for reparations is only concerned with the relationship between the State and blacks, says Taylor.”
And the State is funded by taxpayers. The bullshit here is merely an attempt to avoid admitting that this would be how such a thing would be funded because there is, of course, ultimately no other source of wealth to which the State has access.
Professor Taylor is either stupid or just hopes everyone else is.
The scary part is that it might well be a). Anyone with brains would be able to see how this idea is incredibly corrosive.
Wait, I can get $1200 a month for wearing a dress in San Francisco?
Gave me a chuckle 🙂 Yes, it’s all about lived experiences and feelings in America now.
The “revolution” that people like this man want, will come first for people like him; academics. Its what always happens. This ugly analysis is what happens when people are not told “no” and their fantasies get completely carried away.
“Why can’t Biden give $80 billion to a black cause the same way he flippantly gave $80 billion to Ukraine?”
Since 1945, the United States has been the ultimate guarantor of the rules-based international order we know today. Rightly, it led the resistance to the totalitarian challenge from Stalin and his successors. Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is the most serious challenge of the post-war order we have ever experienced. And, in Professor Taylor’s opinion, the American response is frivolous and irresponsible.
It’s hard not to conclude Taylor is as obsessed about racism the way Ladislas Farago was obsessed about postwar Nazism in South America.
“ultimate guarantor of the rules-based international order we know today.”
And I thought the video that talked about “reparations ” would be the funniest thing in the article…
The war in Ukraine was not in the vital interests of USA. Biden created this WWIII to destroy the economy of Europe. It is working well. Ukraine destroyed – the economy of Europe hanging on the roped, global famine coming fast from this, and maybe a Million Russian, Ukrainian, and surrounding peoples will die – and the same number disabled physically and mentally.
Biden/Boris funding this war is the most evil thing USA has every done.
PEACE NOW stop this funding this EVIL WAR!
Golly, these Russian propaganda bots are really getting to be pretty good, aren’t they? You might almost think that ‘Elliott Bjorn’ was a real person.
Still, the propaganda is still pretty crude. To be effective, it would have to hope that the reader had forgotten that the war started with Putin’s unprovoked attack on a neighbouring state.
Rules-based international order? For that statement to be a positive requires the rules to be ones that lead to desirable societal outcomes, right? You think this disgusting late-stage capitalism we find ourselves in is good? It was a long game to dispossess the people by the rich as far as I can see – soon it may be no better than the outcomes of communism
Why do I just want to puke?
Why does Biden want 87,000 armed IRS Agents?
Taylor maintained that the payouts should not be primarily tax-funded but that this money would come from the American state
Had to read that back a few times to make sure I had it right. This is the level of understanding possessed by this con artist.
All the money of the American state is tax payer money unless it’s symbolic money (hahahaha) which of course is free, valueless and unlimited
Wouldn’t this just cause black people to flock to SF and every non-black person to leave the city?
On the second part, I imagine it would depend on where the money was supposed (since this is never going to actually happen) come from. If they tried to get it from San Francisco, you’re right; but they are more likely to try and get it from the deepest and most diffuse pocket – the Federal Government.
What, may I ask defines ‘a victim of the ‘failed War on Drugs’?
Do you get $5m for being a heroin addict or imprisoned for selling crack cocaine? What a peculiar thing.
Imagine giving a heroin addict $5m…………would they then be winning or losing the war on drugs?
Well, someone would be winning, that’s for sure!
Here’s a better idea. How about only current citizens of States which actually had slaves are included in the $5m jamboree; California being excluded. But, all US citizens fund this equally thru their taxes, including Prof Taylor.
Since this vague monolith called the “State” is to blame, how could Prof T possibly object?
American blacks are one of the luckiest black populations on earth, always have been! Life wasn’t easy, many bad things have happened but compare their lives to that of Africans and black Caribbeans/South Americans and ask yourself who suffered more and who suffered less, collectively?
As slaves they could have been sold to the Ottomans, Arabs or African buyers (males castrated as a matter of course) while for the last five generations or so, American blacks had wonderful opportunities for raising families, education, business and the general freedoms to live prosperous,healthy and happy lives.
Many, many blacks wasted their opportunities by they own bad choices. Just like many whites also did!
Giving out free money now is an act of great injustice in so many ways! What about the countless other descendents of victims of historical crime or persecution, what about mixed race people? (I’m not American)
Look. Let’s get one thing incandescently clear. I’ve lived in the erstwhile “Golden State” for 56 years. Any cultural move which has its genesis in Babylon by the Sea will, eo ipso, be certifiably insane. The place is steeped in utter madness. Tony Bennet may have left his heart in San Francisco, but absolutely np one has left his brain there in decades. Reparations are the product of a local culture that lost the plot back in the 1950s.
Somewhere, Aristophanes is roaring with laughter as ‘The Clouds’ comes to life.
This is ridiculous and sounds like he just asking for a handout? Systemic change is required for equality, and it isn’t just black people effected. All he talks about is money, and £5m, aggregate of the top 1% and you will see there is a huge divide across all spectrums regardless of race, religion, gender etc.
There is an elite class, and money to angry people who aren’t looking for a systemic change and how this is delivered will simply fuel such a divide that it will be irreparable.
Money does not create happiness, but offering good jobs, with common purpose, across all sections of society will
bring people together.
This guy is asking for a split tiered society based on race, it’s the most poorly thought through argument I’ve ever heard.
And his point on Ukraine is absolutely true, but not his logic that is you give money to Ukrainian you should write a check for black people. The question is why is Ukraine receiving this money and why is the government not accountable to the people and transparent. There are huge issues with government and starts and will not be fixed by giving people lots of money.
California was never a slave state. However the Democratic Party founded in 1828 was a big fan of slavery. California is. Dem state so why not. All the states that vote Democrat should as well. Tis only fair.
“The media focus on and humanize “worthy victims,” those who are on the receiving end of crimes perpetrated by official enemies, at the expense of “unworthy victims,” the people whose lives are destroyed in the maintenance of U.S. power. The media stick closely to official explanations and points of view. Alternative views are filtered out and marginalized; the media set the limits of debate and overwhelmingly reflect only the discussions that rage among supposedly credible sources: political and economic managers” (Bergman, 2014).
Reparations will create a Medicare/Social Security-style bureaucratic administration that will employ thousands of administrators, bureaucrats, economists and civil servants.
This new department will require annual entitlement funding exempt from the standard political process, thereby raising the debt ceiling
Since there is no “pot o’ money” awaiting descendants of slaves, we will have to borrow so our children will pay it back.
Further, as Thomas Sowell, a black American conservative at the Heritage Foundation has observed, entitlements for black Americans since 1965 has worsened the poverty rate, worsened teen pregnancies among blacks, decreased educational attainment and increased black-on-black crime and violence.
This is had enormous potential. With advances in DNA analysis and AI it might soon be possible to trace ones origins way back in history. For instance how much of a persons make up is Neanderthal/Denisovan/Sapians how much Neolithic how much Beaker Folk invaders (as is the latest findings). A plus or minus balance sheet could then be drawn up with points for oppressor or victim judged by the actions of their ancestors throughout history. Once the newborn has been analysed the resulting chart would then dictate their position in society and wealth or poverty that goes with it.
This system seems as logical as any other way of ordering a society order and a lot fairer than some.
“Martin Luther King would have no time, Professor Taylor says, for the ‘colourblind’ progressives”
Despite his most famous statement calling for precisely that? What dishonours Dr King’s legacy is grubby little chancers like this “academic” using his name, and the suffering of others, to get themselves a handout.
For once I agree with something that came out of San Francisco. As I’ve been arguing for some time now, reparations, unlike imaginary notions of social justice, is a conservative idea. If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime This is a form of justice to people whose ancestors have been subjected to one of the most horrific crimes in history.
As for the question of who will pay for it – that hasn’t been an issue for things like war reperations in the past, I don’t see why it’s a question now.
If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime
What crime did the current residents of California commit, specifically?
No wait, they could be onto something here – if the going rate is $5m, then between the romans, angles, jutes, saxons, vikings, normans and the prince of orange we’re all owed at least $35m each!
Let me start with a related question first. If someone’s father obtained his wealth by enslaving and murdering some people, should his children be allowed to inherit and keep the money after his crimes are found – morally speaking?
sins of the father is a fictional quote, not a legal precedent.
There’s no legal precedent for something that happened over 400 years starting before US was an independent state? I’m not very surprised.
I think they intend the whole world pay for it -)
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