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San Francisco Reparations Committee Chairman Admits No ‘Math Formula’ behind $5 Million Payout Plan

by Jeff Zymeri
San Francisco Reparations Committee Chairman Admits No ‘Math Formula’ behind $5 Million Payout Plan

The San Francisco committee which came up with a reparations figure of $5 million for each black resident did not use a mathematical formula to determine that number, according to the committee chairman.

Critics have pushed back against the hefty recommendation, claiming it isn’t serious and distracts from other, more reasonable recommendations the committee made. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendations after a final report is released in June.

“There wasn’t a math formula,” African American Reparations Advisory Committee chairman Eric McDonnell told the Washington Post. “It was a journey for the committee towards what could represent a significant enough investment in families to put them on this path to economic well-being, growth, and vitality that chattel slavery and all the policies that flowed from it destroyed.”

Under the proposal, the $5 million payment would be made available to black residents who are at least 18 and have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least ten years. Residents must also meet at least two of eight other requirements. Among those requirements is that the resident is “personally, or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs” or is a “Descendant of someone enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865.”

The committee considered the city’s history holistically, McDonnell said. While slavery was never legal in San Francisco, the funds are intended to address the public policies which subjugated black “people in San Francisco by upholding and expanding the intent and legacy of chattel slavery.”

Unlike others in his party, John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, is open to having a conversation about reparations but found the committee’s process to be ludicrous.

“This is just a bunch of like-minded people who got in the room and came up with a number,” Dennis told The Post. “You’ll notice in that report, there was no justification for the number, no analysis provided. This was an opportunity to do some serious work and they blew it.”

In the same report from the Post, Amos Brown, who sits on both the San Francisco committee as well as one set up by the state of California, lamented the distraction the figure has caused.

“You can’t put a dollar tag on the horrifying and hellish evil that our ancestors went through,” explained Brown. “But what you can do is implement simple, practical programs that will deal with our health challenges, our educational needs, our economic needs and create spaces for us to connect as a community for our cultural needs.”

San Francisco has an annual budget of $14 billion and faces a $728 million budget deficit over the next two years. A huge amount of the city’s budget would be consumed by such payments, even if only a fraction of the city’s 50,000 black residents receive them.

Supporters of the number are resolute, however. They point to the city’s black residents having a median income of about $44,000 compared with $85,000 for Latinos, $105,000 for Asians, and $113,000 for White residents, according to 2021 census data.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, who wrote the legislation that formed the committee two years ago, told National Review last month that the proposed $5 million payment per qualifying person is actually “much less than a lot of the projections that people say black people should receive for reparations here in the United States.”

Others have proposed smaller figures.

Economist William A. Darity Jr., who has been advocating for reparations for years, believes black Americans should receive at least $350,000 each in a federal reparations program, a figure based on his calculation of the country’s racial wealth gap.

“Calling for a $5 million payout by a local government undercuts the credibility of the reparations effort,” Darity explained to The Post, adding that the number should be “somewhat realistic.”


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