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Eli Anderson
Eli Anderson


Affirming the importance of addressing the question of remedies and reparation for victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law in a systematic and thorough way at the national and international levels,


10. Victims should be treated with humanity and respect for their dignity and human rights, and appropriate measures should be taken to ensure their safety, physical and psychological well-being and privacy, as well as those of their families. The State should ensure that its domestic laws, to the extent possible, provide that a victim who has suffered violence or trauma should benefit from special consideration and care to avoid his or her re-traumatization in the course of legal and administrative procedures designed to provide justice and reparation.

15. Adequate, effective and prompt reparation is intended to promote justice by redressing gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law. Reparation should be proportional to the gravity of the violations and the harm suffered. In accordance with its domestic laws and international legal obligations, a State shall provide reparation to victims for acts or omissions which can be attributed to the State and constitute gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law. In cases where a person, a legal person, or other entity is found liable for reparation to a victim, such party should provide reparation to the victim or compensate the State if the State has already provided reparation to the victim.

16. States should endeavour to establish national programmes for reparation and other assistance to victims in the event that the parties liable for the harm suffered are unable or unwilling to meet their obligations.

17. States shall, with respect to claims by victims, enforce domestic judgements for reparation against individuals or entities liable for the harm suffered and endeavour to enforce valid foreign legal judgements for reparation in accordance with domestic law and international legal obligations. To that end, States should provide under their domestic laws effective mechanisms for the enforcement of reparation judgements.

18. In accordance with domestic law and international law, and taking account of individual circumstances, victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law should, as appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation and the circumstances of each case, be provided with full and effective reparation, as laid out in principles 19 to 23, which include the following forms: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

26. Nothing in these Basic Principles and Guidelines shall be construed as restricting or derogating from any rights or obligations arising under domestic and international law. In particular, it is understood that the present Basic Principles and Guidelines are without prejudice to the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It is further understood that these Basic Principles and Guidelines are without prejudice to special rules of international law.

We are aware of recent reports of electronic communications and social media posts sharing false and misleading information about African American California residents receiving monetary reparations. This information is false. There is no such process in place with the Department of Justice or any other state agency. Under AB 3121, any reparations program will need to be enacted by the Legislature and approved by the Governor. The Reparations Task Force's role is to develop recommendations for future Legislative action. Therefore, at this time, there is no claims process. Task Force meetings will continue to be held through next year, and we encourage you to attend and/or watch the Task Force meetings, which can be accessed on this page along with all other information pertaining to the Task Force.

The Task Force will hold periodic meetings, which are open to the public. Additionally, the California Department of Justice will facilitate Task Force consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. To receive notifications regarding the Reparations Task Force, including information about upcoming meetings, please subscribe to the AB 3121 mailing list.

Americans view the prospect of reparations mostly negatively, a 2021 Pew Research Center survey found. Three-in-ten U.S. adults say descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should be repaid in some way, such as given land or money. About seven-in-ten (68%) say these descendants should not be repaid.

Views of reparations for slavery vary widely by race and ethnicity, especially between Black and White Americans. Around three-quarters of Black adults (77%) say the descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should be repaid in some way, while 18% of White Americans say the same.

As with views of reparations, racial and ethnic differences on this question are notable. Black Americans (85%) are more likely than Hispanic (64%) and White (50%) Americans to say the legacy of slavery affects the position of Black people in the U.S. a fair amount or a great deal.

Three-quarters of reparations supporters say the federal government has all or most of the responsibility to repay descendants of enslaved people. A smaller share, though still a majority, say businesses and banks that profited from slavery (65%) have all or most of the responsibility. Fewer say the same about colleges and universities that benefited from slavery (53%) and descendants of families who engaged in the slave trade (44%).

For example, more than six-in-ten Black and Hispanic reparations supporters (63% and 69%, respectively) say colleges and universities that benefited from slavery bear all or most of the responsibility for repaying descendants of enslaved people. By comparison, White and Asian American supporters of reparations are notably less likely to hold this view (41% and 44%, respectively).

When it comes to various forms of repayment, majorities of Black American reparations supporters say all four forms of assistance would be extremely or very helpful, and those in other racial and ethnic groups largely agree. Americans in each racial and ethnic group are least likely to say cash payments would be helpful.

Today, the average white family has roughly 10 times the amount of wealth as the average Black family. White college graduates have over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates. Making the American Dream an equitable reality demands the same U.S. government that denied wealth to Blacks restore that deferred wealth through reparations to their descendants in the form of individual cash payments in the amount that will close the Black-white racial wealth divide. Additionally, reparations should come in the form of wealth-building opportunities that address racial disparities in education, housing, and business ownership.

Universities including Georgetown and Princeton Theological Seminary, which is the second-oldest seminary in the country, are aiming to atone for the fact that the sale of slaves helped to fortify their university endowments and establish them as elite institutions of higher education on a global scale. Descendants of the slaves sold by Georgetown and Princeton Theological Seminary are now entitled to full rights and benefits bestowed by those universities to obtain degrees across the higher education pipeline. The Virginia state legislature voted for some of its state universities to atone for slavery with reparations. Other universities, along with state legislatures and the federal government, should follow suit.

This reparations package for Black Americans is about restoring the wealth that has been extracted from Black people and communities. Still, reparations are all for naught without enforcement of anti-discrimination policies that remove barriers to economic mobility and wealth building. The architecture of the economy must change in order to create an equitable society. The racial wealth gap was created by racist policies. Federal intervention is needed to remove the racism that undergirds those polices. In some respects, the question of who should receive reparations is more controversial than what or how much people should be awarded.

One key question after deciding what a reparations package should include is who should qualify. In short, a Black person who can trace their heritage to people enslaved in U.S. states and territories should be eligible for financial compensation for slavery. Meanwhile, Black people who can show how they were excluded from various policies after emancipation should seek separate damages. For instance, a person like Senator Cory Booker whose parents are descendants of slaves would qualify for slavery reparations whereas Senator Kamala Harris (Jamaican immigrant father and Indian immigrant mother) and President Barack Obama (Kenyan immigrant father and white mother) may seek redress for housing and/or education segregation. Sasha and Malia Obama (whose mother is Michelle Robinson Obama, a descendant of enslaved Africans) would qualify.

To determine qualification, birth records can initially be used to determine if a person was classified as Black American. Economist Sandy Darity asserts that people should show a consistent pattern of identification. Census records can then be used to determine if a person has consistently identified as Black American. Finally, DNA testing can be used as a supplement to determine lineage. This is how Senator Booker, who first introduced a reparations bill in the Senate, learned that his lineage stemmed from Sierra Leone.

Given the lingering legacy of slavery on the racial wealth gap, the monetary value we know that was placed on enslaved Blacks, the fact that other groups have received reparations, and the fact that Blacks were originally awarded reparations only to have them rescinded provide overwhelming evidence that it is time to pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Blacks. 041b061a72


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