Reparation payments of $5 million to eligible Black residents has been unanimously accepted by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, reports CNN.
On Tuesday, a meeting convened by the Board of Supervisors included a presentation by San Francisco’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee that detailed the proposals. Supervisor Shaman Walton claims that the time has come to move forward after studying reparations for several years.
“Now, the real work continues," Walton said after the meeting. “As I’ve said before, we have to stay focused and stay together as a community because now it is 100% more prevalent that we cannot be separated or divided. Let’s not lose focus because when we receive the final report, we have to actually resource the path forward.”
Residents of the city came out in droves to show their support for the committee’s recommendation. Other items on the table for reparations include the school-to-prison pipeline, educational opportunities, fair housing, access to healthcare and other targeted local policies.
“Reparations is about justice,” Mo McNelly, a local artist argued. “We cannot have justice for some and not for all.”
“The system is not broken,” Darnesha Carlos added “It is working exactly the way it was intended to, and I think we need to acknowledge that, understand that, and as the supervisors have chimed in and said they support this, that they want to see reparations.
While a cost analysis of the proposals has not been completed, critics of the plan have described it as “financially and politically impossible” to bring to fruition. The conservative-leaning Hoover Institution at Stanford University has estimated that the cost would be $600,000 for every non-Black resident of San Francisco.
Eric McDonnell, chair of San Francisco's African American Reparations Advisory Committee, expressed his disappointment with the lack of understanding about the ongoing effects of U.S. slavery and how racism had shaped American institutions by some of the city's white residents.
"There's still a veiled perspective that, candidly, Black folks don't deserve this," McDonnell explained. "The number itself, $5 million, is actually low when you consider the harm."
San Francisco is following the blueprint of other cities such as Evanston, Illinois, which became the first city in the nation to approve financial reparations for Black Americans. The city approved a $10 million reparations fund for its Black residents and for the descendants of Black ancestors who lived in the city. In January 2022, a program was instituted with the first group of beneficiaries receiving $25,000 in housing grants.
In Boston, Massachusetts, the City Council approved the formation of a reparations study task force in December 2022.
Reparations advocacy groups believe that local and state organizing will be instrumental in passing HR 40, a reparations bill, and creating “the infrastructure for a federal reparations program.”
“Local operations are going to help identify patterns and where resources are most needed in areas across the country,” said Kamm Howard, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. “The local initiatives provide the federal government with “shovel ready” projects that have been tested and proven to be successful, and that needs to be expanded on a federal scale.”
The committee's final report is due in June, and there's no timetable for San Francisco to act on the recommendations.