A new report from California’s first-in-the-country reparations task force details how slavery touched nearly every aspect of Black life in America, producing “innumerable harms” that are still felt today.
The report, which will be released Wednesday, offers a comprehensive look at the impacts of enslavement and generations of discrimination on Black Californians and Black Americans more broadly. It finds that the damage to Black communities is extensive and that a variety of intentionally crafted policy, judicial decisions and racism by private actors has created a widespread exclusion of Black people that has not been sufficiently addressed at any level of government.
“Almost 150 years of active, conscious federal, state, and local government action and neglect of duty have resulted in compounded harms that are unique to Black Americans,” the authors wrote in a draft reviewed by NBC News prior to its release.
The report, the first to be released at the state level, comes amid an increased national discussion on reparations, as well as action at the local and municipal level. Last year, H.R. 40, congressional legislation that would create a national commission to study reparations and explain the U.S. government’s role in enslavement and systemic discrimination, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, but it has languished since then.
The California report covers not just the immediate impact of enslavement but also the harms of decades of political neglect, finding that there has been sustained damage to generations of Black Americans. The damage has had a lasting effect on the political, economic, social, physical, mental and cultural well-being of Black people, particularly those descended from the formerly enslaved.
“Every state has some history of harm in the African American community,” said Kamilah Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney and reparatory justice scholar who chairs California’s reparations task force. The nine-member task force, which a state law created in 2020, is charged with studying the impacts of enslavement on Black Californians and coming up with possible plans for restitution.