Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.
California News

For many black Californians, skepticism and hope in the face of reparations

Carolyn Peters grew up in a time when Compton was a predominantly white middle-class suburb, and she was part of the vanguard of her generation, as one of the first black students to attend Roosevelt Middle School in the city. Their welcome was cold and often cruel.

“There were teachers who had problems with black children there. And we encountered resistance not only from other children but also from their parents,” Peters said, recalling that time almost 60 years ago.

Teachers insisted that black students use greetings like “sir” or “ma’am,” but allowed white students to answer their questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” In Peters’ opinion, educators seemed to prefer working with white children. She spent 38 years as a teacher, trying to rectify that.

In town, black women had to wear dresses or face persecution, Peters recalled. And she and her peers weren’t allowed to sit anywhere but upstairs watching movies at the Compton Theater.

Peters is still proud of the life she’s built as a landlord in South Los Angeles — and acutely aware that she never had a level playing field.

And now, as California moves to finalize a reparations discussion that could shape the lives of millions in the Golden State, Peters and other Black Angelenos are skeptical they will ever see restitution. that they consider deserved.

After nearly two years of meetings, California’s Reparations Task Force decided last month to recommend the state issue a formal apology for the widespread harms of slavery and discrimination and potentially provide billions dollars in cash payments in a historic effort to make amends.

The group’s final report, which is due in the state legislature by July 1, will guide lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom as they determine whether the harms of slavery and enduring discrimination deserve repair.

The current task force report offers reparations only to Californians who are descendants of enslaved Americans and calculates their monetary losses in three categories of community harm: health disparities, mass incarceration, and over- policing of African Americans, and housing discrimination.

And while the prospect of reparations has been the subject of much public discourse, the process is only dimly understood in many of the communities that will benefit most.

But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating or wishlisting.

Critics question whether the recommendations proposed by the task force are sufficient to address the systemic problems in the black community that persist today. Proponents, on the other hand, argue that billions of dollars in direct payments and official apologies are the most effective ways to atone for generations of discrimination that have shaped the black experience in Southern California.

Most lawmakers have yet to make their position known, but the debate remains one of the hottest topics in the city, especially in L.A. communities such as Crenshaw, Leimert Park and Inglewood – the heart of Black LA

The proposals are not lacking.

Direct payments are just one method the state could use to support the descendants of slaves. Peters would like to see apartments become affordable enough to afford minimum wage, more resources for those dependent on meager government benefits and funding to deal with the ravages of recent history.

Peters remembers the black-owned banks, restaurants and storefronts that were forced to close following the 1992 civil unrest, which reshaped the character of his neighborhood in South Los Angeles.

“I really think if we’re going to talk about helping people repair, we have to think about the riots and the number of black businesses who lost their businesses because they couldn’t get the loans to do the repairs. “, Peters said. “How much better off would we be if we had that money to lean on?”

And she hopes that somewhere in the general deliberations the focus is on the individual needs of suffering black people.

The item at the top of Peters’ list of personal repairs provides a way to fix his house’s old windows and leaky roof, so his knees won’t hurt as much in the cold.

“I think the intent, regardless,” Peters said, “the goal should be to help people live a little easier.”

It’s unclear whether the nine-member committee’s two-year process will go as planned. Two local lawmakers who serve on the task force, State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), are expected to lead efforts to convince fellow lawmakers to provide repairs.

But the subject is as politically incendiary as it is expensive, with a price potentially in the billions.

Overlooking speeding cars from her motorized wheelchair on a sunny Thursday afternoon, Beverly Johnson ticked off issues that need addressing in the area around her seniors’ housing complex near Florence and Normandy Avenues. She worries about the upsurge in crime, wall-to-wall graffiti and the ubiquitous noise of police helicopters.

Angeleno, 68, joked that black residents should be given “40 acres and a mule” for all they’ve been through, a saying that dates back more than 150 years to a promise made – and broken – by helping enslaved African Americans on the threshold of emancipation.

“That’s what was promised,” Johnson said, hinting that the repairs could suffer the same fate.

“I don’t think we will ever get money or land. Heck, I don’t know if any changes will happen,” she said, reflecting on the state’s looming budget crisis and lack of land to house struggling veterans.

His reparations wish list includes helping the homeless get off the streets, especially those who have suffered in the war on drugs.

And at the very least, Johnson would like the repairs to include a monthly stipend to help with rent and the high cost of living in the sprawling city.

Other people interviewed by The Times in the Los Angeles area acknowledged having considered the possibility of restitution in recent months. Many, however, were unaware of the details under investigation and instead repeated rumors they had heard from relatives or friends that the payouts ranged from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. for every black Californian.

Others feared that without guidance that teaches people how to protect and grow the assets they would receive in compensation, money could be wasted or mis-spent. That sentiment was echoed by a trio of men in Inglewood, who pointed to nearby luxury vehicles to illustrate how much of the repair windfall could be spent.

One such vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz, was chased out of the fast food parking lot by Randy Mitchell, who runs Preferred Chauffeured Limousines.

Mitchell arrived in Los Angeles from Louisiana in 1975 at the age of 16 with dreams of being a California Highway Patrol officer. He avoided gang life and other risky situations, but finding a path to a career wasn’t as easy as he imagined when he left the South for more opportunities.

“There was neglect, abuse and discrimination everywhere,” Mitchell said. “Shoot, we’re still going through this.

His friend, Los Angeles native Terry Harmon, shared Mitchell’s skepticism about the pace of change. They are both doubtful of seeing any financial benefits anytime soon. But the options being considered are “better than what we got,” Harmon said. “I would still like the check.

“But how much money is the cost of slavery worth?” he wondered.

The question hung in the air like the smell of frying and the sirens wailing in the distance.

In Hyde Park, Jermaine Stewart and his wife, Heather Daly, seemed more optimistic about the possibility of repairs.

Stewart remembers growing up in Rollin’ 60s gang territory, trying to navigate a landscape of drugs, poverty and disease.

‘I’ve seen my people struggle,’ he said, which is why he wants the state to invest in resources like youth centers that help children learn the skills they need to thrive in everyday life.

He has friends and family who ended up living in Skid Row, so Stewart hopes government officials are sincere about delivering something that can improve lives for decades to come.

The best-case scenario, Stewart dreams, is for the kids to find a career path and start their own business.

“It could be something profitable and something to hold on to,” Stewart said, “so we can get off the hook and it becomes a generational thing. I feel really strong about them pushing that.

Melissa Beckford, left to right, works with her mother Marlene and sister Lauren at Ackee Bamboo Jamaican Cuisine. On reparations, Beckford says they should go to everyone who has suffered and has not yet recovered from generations of discrimination.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Near the Ackee Bamboo Jamaican Cuisine family restaurant in Leimert Park, Melissa Beckford echoed the wish of black residents to lay the foundations for a better future – even if repairs are forbidden for Beckford’s family because his parents have emigrated here from Jamaica as a teenager.

They achieved their dream of owning a restaurant, but their path to success was not easy. And Beckford, busy serving tables and taking orders at the Leimert Park storefront this week, was surprised to learn that her family would not be eligible for repairs under the recommendations made by the California task force. .

The state will only compensate Californians who can directly trace their lineage to slavery in the United States or those whose ancestors immigrated before 1900.

The ruling excludes families like Beckford’s, but the task force felt that a plan backed by genealogy, instead of just race, had the best chance of being upheld in the event of a legal challenge.

Some members of the task force argued that reparations should include all black people who suffer from systemic racism. But their proposal lost by one vote.

For Beckford, this result represents missed opportunities. If reparations are a way to mend “the breakdown of local communities”, they must go to all those who have suffered and have not yet recovered from generations of discrimination, she insisted.

If it’s so important for everyone to be on the same level in the name of equality, “what this nation is talking about,” Beckford said, “they should want us to be on the same level.”

California Daily Newspapers

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

Back to top button