‘Why should they get $5 million? Because of skin color?,’ says Black lawyer on Fox News talk show.
Conservatives threw a fit after San Francisco’s reparations committee recommended paying qualified Black residents $5 million as compensation for generations of systemic racial discrimination.
“This is outrageous. It’s unlawful. It’s unconstitutional. It’s racist. But it’s not surprising it came from California on the day of MLK’s birthday,” Leo Terrell, a Black contributor to Fox News, said Monday (Jan. 16) on the network’s political talk show Hannity.
The civil rights attorney said he would “be the first lawyer to fight against” implementation of the draft proposal submitted in December to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“We’re talking about a racist program to benefit individuals who happen to be Black- five million dollars. California was a free state. Who’s going to pay for it? Why should they get $5 million? Because of skin color? It’s insulting,” Terrell continued.
The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee, chaired by Eric McDonnell, a financial industries expert, advises the city on developing a plan for reparations for Black residents.
In 2021, the San Francisco supervisors unanimously appointed 15 people to the committee, formed through the city’s Human Rights Commission, to create a comprehensive reparations plan for African Americans.
The conservatives were quick to point out that the nation’s largest state did not engage in chattel slavery. Indeed, California was admitted to the union as a free state but submitted to the federal Fugitive Slave Act that required official and white residents to return escaped slaves, according to the California Historical Society.
California’s status as a free state prompted Larry Elder, a Black conservative talk radio host, to call reparations the “extraction of money from people who were never slave owners to be given to people who were never slaves,” on the Hannity show Monday.
But the reparations committee said its report contributes to “the contemporary discourse about reparations–specifically expanding on the understanding of the role that city governments have played in perpetuating harms that further marginalize their African American communities.”
It points to decades of San Francisco government policies that purposely harmed the ability of its Black residents to build generational wealth and ghettoized them in perpetual poverty.
“Of particular focus has been the era of urban renewal, perhaps the most significant example of how the City and County of San Francisco as an institution played a role in undermining Black wealth and actively displacing the city’s Black population,” the report stated.
“As the growth of San Francisco’s African American population accelerated between 1940 and 1963, public and private entities facilitated and coddled the conditions that created near-exclusive Black communities within the city, limited political participation and representation, disinvested from academic and cultural institutions, and intentionally displaced Black communities from San Francisco through targeted, sometimes violent actions,” it continued.
The report proposed a one-time, lump sum payment of $5 million to each eligible person as part of a comprehensive suite of financial reparations.
“A lump sum payment would compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced, and will redress the economic and opportunity losses that Black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy,” the report stated.
The suite of proposed financial reparations would include supplementing the annual income of low-wage African American households for at least 250 years and debt forgiveness for educational and personal loans (credit card, payday loans and the like).
It also calls for the creation of financial education programs and a public bank framework to assist unbanked Black residents while also expanding their access to loans.
Not all Black San Franciscans would be eligible under the proposal. Eligible individuals must be at least 18 years old and identified as “Black/African American” on public documents for at least 10 years.
They must also prove at least two of eight additional criteria, choosing from a list that includes, “born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and has proof of residency in San Francisco for at least 13 years,” “personally, or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs,” and/or “displaced, or the direct descendant of someone displaced, from San Francisco by Urban Renewal between 1954 and 1973.”
San Francisco isn’t the only city working on reparations.
Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb, in 2021 became the first city to make reparations available to Black residents. More recently, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed an executive order on Dec. 7 to create a reparations commission.
On Dec. 14, the Boston City Council voted unanimously to create a task force to explore reparations for Black residents, which would compensate them for the city’s role in slavery and its generational impact of racial discrimination. And St. Paul, Minn. City Council on Jan. 4 voted unanimously to create the St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission.