In San Francisco, controversy over a vast plan to “repair” systemic racism


City council meeting on reparations for African Americans, in San Francisco, USA, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

A lively controversy shook San Francisco (California) after the presentation, Tuesday, March 14, before the city council, of a plan of “repairs” to compensate for the legacy of systemic racism, which proposes to award 5 million dollars (4.7 million euros) to each African American in the city.

Discussed at a public meeting on Tuesday evening, this plan was carried out by a commission charged by the municipality to make proposals in order to correct the inequalities suffered by African-Americans in the United States since slavery. “Black Lives Matter (Black Lives Matter). You have the opportunity to demonstrate it today, do it with repairs”Yulanda Williams, a black police officer who is campaigning for law enforcement reform, told city council on Tuesday.

In addition to its flagship measure, the plan contains a hundred recommendations and proposes, for example, guaranteeing a minimum annual income of almost $100,000 for 250 years for each eligible black adult, a house in San Francisco for $1 per family or canceling the debts of the beneficiaries. His opponents, including left-wing elected officials, denounce a project ” absurd “.

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“It’s not serious at all and, apart from being a huge waste of time, it’s also a complete distraction”the leader of the Republican Party in San Francisco, John Dennis, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). ” The budget (annual) of the city is 14 billion dollars”he recalled, estimating the cost of this plan at “50 billion”.

Eligibility criteria to be determined

The idea of ​​reparations for systemic racism is gaining momentum among the American left, given studies that show that public policies have for decades increased the likelihood of the African American population to be poor, at the unemployed or in prison.

After the “Black Lives Matter” movement in 2020, California set up a commission on the subject, whose report is still awaited. Several American cities, including Boston (Massachusetts), have done the same. In 2021, the municipality of Evanston (Illinois), near Chicago, became the first city in the United States to adopt a reparations plan, in particular allocating financial aid to its African-American inhabitants to renovate their housing.

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But the program envisaged for San Francisco is by far the most ambitious. The city has several tens of thousands of African-American inhabitants, but the eligibility criteria have yet to be determined. A final report must be submitted in June, and the municipal council will then have to decide.

Civil rights activists call for them not to reduce this project to a single measure. “To relegate this issue to a fight for $5 million is incorrect and dishonest”estimated to AFP Amos Brown, of the association for the defense of civil rights NAACP. “It doesn’t show all the terror and pain we went through. My position is that, for all that we have endured, it is $5 million plus specific programs” to support economic development, housing, health and education, he added.

The World with AFP


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