Governor Newsom’s Call for Reparations Reveals Implicit Bias
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 3121 which “establishes a nine-member task force to inform Californians about slavery and explore ways the state might provide reparations.” Gov. Newsom has apparently forgotten that California was not part of the Confederacy and that the United States abolished slavery more than 150 years ago, two decades before Cuba freed slaves in 1886. So reparations would punish those who had nothing to do with slavery and reward those who were never slaves.
AB-3121 does not provide for cash payments, but if it comes to that there could be a problem. According to California’s legislative analyst, the state’s unfunded liabilities for government employees and teachers total $93.1 billion. California’s unfunded retiree health liabilities add another $85.6 billion. Gov. Newsom’s grasp of California’s debt seems to have been displaced by what might be called reparations rage.
“As a nation,” the governor’s signing statement proclaims, “we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive. Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions.” That seems at odds with descendant of slaves Willie Brown, 86, who preceded Gavin Newsom as mayor of San Francisco.
Before that, as an assemblyman and Assembly Speaker, the African American Willie Brown was the most powerful man in California politics. Brown set up his former girlfriend Kamala Harris in lucrative sinecures and backed her career all the way to her current candidacy for what she has called a “Harris administration.” If that is not thriving, it’s hard to know what might be.
How such a career, or that of former president Barack Obama, could happen under “structural racism” might leave Americans puzzled. As for reparations, a clearer example of implicit bias might be hard to find.