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Politics & Policy

California reparations calculator: How much does a state panel say I’m owed?

Bishop Henry C. Williams of Oakland testifies during the Reparations Task Force meeting in Sacramento on March 29, 2023. Williams said he hopes to build a Black Wall Street in Oakland with all Black-owned businesses. | Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee via AP

After two years studying the effects of slavery and modern-day racism, the state task force is urging California to repair the long-term damage African Americans here have suffered. 

Among its recommendations: that the state make a “down payment” on financial reparations. 

Economic experts devised ways to calculate African Americans’ losses due to certain types of racial harm—such as health care disparities, discrimination in housing and mortgage lending, overpolicing and over-incarceration, and devaluation of Black-owned businesses. 

How much might the state owe a person? The panel said it depends on how long and when they’ve lived in California.

Task force members said elderly people should have priority. And only African American descendants from enslaved Americans are eligible—not other Black residents, such as more recent immigrants. 

That means nearly 80% of California’s 2.6 million Black residents would be eligible, an economist estimates. If each person lived in the state only two years, it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in potential reparations.

Eligible Black residents shouldn’t expect cash payments anytime soon. The state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom will decide on reparations. It’s unclear what they will do with the task force report.