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California Reparations Task Force Opts For ‘Lineage-Based Approach. Benefits Will Go Only to Blacks with a Direct American Slave Ancestor

A victory for African-American descendants of enslaved people will not be shared by other Blacks in the U.S.

“Now that we know who’s eligible, let’s talk about the forms of reparations,” said Kamilah Moore, chair of the California Reparations Task Force.

Moore leads a nine-member group formed in 2020 comprised of civil rights activists, lawyers, scholars, and politicians. Ever since last summer, the task force has mulled over a key question regarding reparations for Black people in California: who should get them?

After two delayed votes, on March 29, the task force finally decided in a five to four vote, limiting compensation to the descendants of free and enslaved Black people who were in the U.S. in the 19th century.

Moore says determining who is eligible can be done with more certainty using a lineage-based standard compared to a race-based approach. “If we had went with a race-based approach, people don’t often ask the same question, how do you prove your Blackness, how do you go about proving that, how do you measure your Blackness,” Moore said.

Moore says focusing solely on race alone opens doors to more groups of people getting reparations intended for descendants of slavery.

“Black is a self-selecting category on the Census; anyone can select Black,” Moore said in giving reasons why the task force decided on a lineage-based approach. “Under a race-based standard, white people could get in, people of color could get in through that idea that race is a social construct,” Moore went on to say.

Moore says the task force still has a lot of work to do before submitting a final report to the legislature. They still need to decide what proof Black California residents will need to verify their lineage. Moore says, “I think it will be mainly genealogical, like census records, birth records, things like that.”

Moore says Black Americans who have at least one parent whose lineage can be traced to an enslaved person would also be eligible. “Someone like Malcolm X, whose mother was Caribbean, and his father was African-American, he would be entitled to full reparations under this standard,” Moore said.

Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.

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