Today, for example, 34 percent of black families own their own homes, half of white and Asian families.
In addition, black-owned homes in Sonoma County are worth $100,000 less than white-owned homes, according to census data analyzed in “A Portrait of Sonoma County 2021,” a county-commissioned report published in January 2022.
Williams suggested a salary that people could use specifically for down payments on home purchases as part of a range of programs that include “labs, banks engaged in providing loans, financial assistance, help with all the paperwork and the process, the whole package”.
Smith also solicited grants to purchase houses as a form of reparation.
“The racial exclusion that has prevented black people from owning homes, or even renting homes, is a denial of generational wealth,” he said.
Smith added: “The systems, the bias that kept people from getting jobs. The prejudice that prevented people from having a proper education. We see it in the reduced graduation rates. We can literally see these things unfolding in today’s data. And so those are things that need to be addressed. It can’t just be a check.”
Jackson, the pastor of Santa Rosa, agreed.
“It has to be kind of a conglomeration of things because there’s more than one way we have to say wealth,” she said. “We usually talk about money. But sometimes when you’re denied a wealth of information, a wealth of education, all of those things equal wealth, power, knowledge. So all these things need to be taken into consideration.
A difficult question
Who should they be directed to is a question that haunts the discussion of reparations, opening the door to complicated calculations and potentially difficult divisions.
For Smith, the former head of the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission who is also second vice president of the Santa Rosa-Sonoma County NAACP, it is clear: The mistakes made against black people in America have occurred to this day in the over the years since slavery ended and black people of all backgrounds were affected.
“All Black people have been affected by this generational damage,” he said. “So, my personal view is that everyone should be entitled to reparations.”
Square, however, sees it differently.
“Remediation in America is a conversation that revolves around lineage, a specific group of people who have suffered a specific harm that has resulted in a specific set of harm,” he said. “So in terms of reparations and compensation, it’s definitely lineage-based.”
But his views on the matter don’t end there.
First, Square acknowledged, regarding limited lineage eligibility, “there’s going to be fallout behind this.”
However, he added, as reparation dollars and other resources begin to flow into the Black community, they would help create a kind of Black-centric economic engine with broader impacts.
“As far as the black community is concerned, a rising tide lifts all boats,” Square said. “As Black Americans get their rightful due, Black people around the planet will begin to reap the rewards.”
Moore, the task force chair, said lineage ended up as an eligibility criterion because that was the intent of the legislation that created the task force and because a criterion based on race would be vulnerable to legal challenge.
“Either we try to do a race-based program and we know it’s going to be shot down, and that means nobody gets reparations,” Moore said, “or we go with lineage to maximize the likelihood that at least some people or the majority will get reparations.” .“
‘At what point do we stop?’
Respondents agree on this: There will be a backlash if the state task force recommends reparations and they come true.
“It’s going to be a very strong voice,” Glover said. “I don’t know if it will be a majority of, say, white people, but it will be a strong voice.”
He said it is one reason he would prefer reparations to be targeted in areas such as education, for example, in the form of scholarships and other aid.
“I think it’s much more palatable for that voice, that collective voice, than throwing people a bunch of money. But yeah, it’s going to be big.”
For Smith, pushback is inevitable.
“I think when you engage in any kind of racial justice, you’ll see white supremacy, you know, come to the surface,” she said. “I mean, we get kickbacks for everything we do.”
Meanwhile, Williams recalled the bitter controversy surrounding a 2020 bill requiring California State University students to take at least one course in ethnic studies, and said she had come to believe that financial payments for reparations were an unwise idea.
“I applaud them for the attempt they are making and for the work they are trying to do. It makes me proud to be a Californian,” he said. “But I’m skeptical of how this will play out, how far they’ll be able to go and if it’s the right thing to do at the right time.”
The question is quite another for Lange, 33, the president of the county’s NAACP chapter.
“At what point do we stop?” she asked. “When will we stop having to prove that we are human?”
You can contact Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 707-387-2960 or [email protected] On Twitter @jeremyhay