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The misguided notion of reparations in California

California is a state that never legalized slavery. Gov. Newsom and his supermajority have approved $12 million in a budget with a $50 Billion deficit for reparations. I may be wrong, but this seems to me to be a decision that is not only historically misplaced but also financially irresponsible, considering the state’s dire economic situation.

First, I think it’s important to acknowledge that California never practiced slavery. While there has been injustice in the past everywhere, the state's history is markedly different from the Southern states, which built their economies on the backs of enslaved individuals.

The founding fathers, despite the contradictions in some of their actions, generally opposed slavery. Many, like Thomas Jefferson, expressed moral objections even while participating in the system – a system instituted and perpetuated by British colonial policies long before Americans fought for their independence. Slavery was one of the issues that caused Americans to fight for their freedom from Great Britain. That is rarely brought up.

The Civil War, a bloody conflict in American history, was fought with the primary aim of uniting the union and abolishing slavery. Over 400,000 Union soldiers, many from states that had abolished or never allowed slavery, sacrificed their lives to end this evil practice.

The valor and ultimate sacrifice of these soldiers were instrumental in the eventual liberation of slaves.The exact numbers are not known, as far as I could tell. Most of the slaves from the Atlantic slave trade, stayed in Brazil and South America.

While we’re talking about it, these Union soldiers, who fought and died to end slavery, left behind families who suffered greatly in their absence. Widows and orphans faced destitution without any form of support. If we’re going to do reparations, do the families who lost their husbands, sons, brothers and fathers not deserve reparations too?

And to rub salt in the wound, by today’s Critical Race Theory (CRT) standards, because the dead and surviving soldiers were largely white men, they would be automatically judged today by the color of their skin and labeled oppressors, even though so many gave their lives to free slaves. It’s just ironic and sad.

The current financial state of California is a significant cause for concern. To address a staggering $46.8 billion deficit, the state has enacted $16 billion in spending cuts and temporary tax hikes on businesses generating over a million dollars annually.

In this context, allocating $12 million for reparations seems not only imprudent but the budget does not specify how these funds will be utilized, raising concerns about yet another government program with little accountability. I’m sure the $12 million will just set up a new agency, a new behemoth to grow every year. This comes at a time when inflation is slowing the economy and unemployment is rising, exacerbating the state’s fiscal challenges.

The idea of paying reparations in a state that never endorsed slavery is fraught with ethical and logical inconsistencies. Current residents, many of whom are immigrants or descendants of individuals who arrived in the United States post-slavery, are going to be asked to fund reparations.

Nearly 30% of California’s population was born outside the U.S., and I’ve read that only 3% to 5% of Californians even have any ancestral ties to slavery, either as victims or perpetrators.

Moreover, it is worth noting that about 75% of families in the Southern states did not own slaves. The culpability of slave ownership was limited to a specific segment of the population, not a widespread practice among all white Americans.

Suggesting that contemporary Californians bear financial responsibility for historical injustices committed by a few is not only unjust but also ignores the complex, multifaceted history of the United States.

Rather than focusing on reparations, it seems to me that efforts would be better directed towards creating opportunities for all residents. California has done better than many states in integrating other cultures, races, etc.

I think we can honor the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and those who suffered injustices while building a future that offers fairness and justice for all, like we’ve been fighting for the several decades.


Reader Comments(1)

jfollis102 writes:

I agree with you 100%!

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