California reparations push could give Black residents hundreds of thousands of dollars

Keisha Brown, 49, is married with five children and lives in a Bay Area suburb. Even with two incomes, she said, she and her family are struggling.

Rent keeps going up. They’re having to use credit cards. The house they rent in Antioch, Calif., is now worth about $700,000. That’s more than what Brown, who works in human resources, and her husband, a bus driver, would qualify to buy.

So if California becomes the first state in the nation to provide possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in reparations to its qualifying Black residents, it would mean a significant boost for Brown and her family.

“Of course [reparations] would mean better for our children,” Brown said. “It would secure some stability, and we could have something to leave our kids. They won’t have to be robbing Peter to pay Paul like we’ve had to.”

For California’s estimated 1.8 million Black residents who are descendants of enslaved people, reparations could allow many of them to finally buy a house, pay off student loans, try to build generational wealth and more. MarketWatch talked with Brown and other Black Californians, who are at different stages in their lives, and they all said reparations would help them in some way.

Economic consultants for the state’s reparations task force — established by law and the first of its kind at the state level — recently presented calculations for certain scenarios that include figures amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in reparations for each California resident who can prove they are the descendant of an enslaved person.

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