Reparations, African American Redress Network

California Assemblyman Tearfully Defends Reparations Bill

The bill advanced despite the criticisms of one Republican lawmaker.

A Democratic assemblyman in California went viral after tearfully defending a proposed reparations bill. A Republican lawmaker argued that nonwhite residents should not have to pay for reparations.

The bill, titled SB 1331, followed recommendations by the state’s reparations task force, per the New York Post.

Despite its advancement from a vote by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, the potential legislation still faces pushback, specifically from Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez.

Sanchez argued that minorities make up more than half of California’s population, specifically Latino and Asian. Sanchez identifies as Hispanic.

She stated they “had nothing to do with slavery, discrimination, Jim Crow laws” and did not need to pay toward reparations. According to economists, the cost of reparations for Black Californians could total over $800 billion.

“To pay for that, you’d need a major tax hike unlike anything this state has ever seen before,” explained Sanchez. “I recognize and acknowledge the painful part of our history, [but] the pains of our past should not be paid by the people of today.” 

However, Assemblyman Ash Kalra teared up as he explained the necessity of reparations, especially in monetary form. Kalra made history in 2016 as the first Indian-American elected to California’s state legislature.

“I understand that it’s hard to ask those of us currently sitting in the legislature to make those commitments, but no one asked Black families over generations, if it was OK to take their wealth, if it was OK to enslave them, it was OK to ….” he began to say as tears filled his eyes.

After regaining his composure, he added, “If it was OK to put their children in generations of poverty. This country became a superpower based upon free labor of African descendants over hundreds of years. We need to recognize it.”

According to its author, State Sen. Steven Bradford, the bill could extend reparations beyond monetary payments. Free healthcare and college tuition have emerged as potential measures.

It remains one of four reparations bills passed by the committee thus far.

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