As Newsom Weighs Reparations Bill, A Scholar Has A Word Of Caution For CaliforniaBreaking News
tags: California, reparations, Sandy Darity
Supporters say it’s yet another case of California leading by example. In acknowledging the sins of California’s forefathers, the state could begin to heal by starting with an apology. But as Newsom considers the legislation before him, one scholar has a word of caution not to detract from where change really needs to happen: Washington, D.C.
William Darity Jr., one of the country’s leading experts on slavery reparations and economics professor at Duke University, hopes the conversation around California’s reparations task force is properly framed with respect to the movement for federal reparations.
Darity Jr. has reservations about the use of the term “reparations” in the bill. He believes it should only be used to describe a full accounting of the damage dealt to African Americans by hundreds of years of enslavement and discriminatory policies — something he says can only be accomplished through the federal government.
“I have a sense of proprietariness about the use of the term reparations, because I think people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” Darity Jr. said in an interview. “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”
The economist is critical of what he calls a piecemeal approach to reparations; where a collection of local and state initiatives form the thrust of slavery reparations in the United States. While AB 3121 is clear about not being a substitute for a national reparations program, Darity Jr. is still worried that the conversation around the project in California might suggest a vision of slavery reparations independent of the federal government.
But Darity Jr. believes the creation of a reparations study team would lock California in as a powerful advocate for federal reparations.
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