California is currently grappling with the issue of reparations, as a recent poll conducted by UC Berkeley and the LA Times indicates that a significant majority of voters are against the idea of cash payments to black descendants of slaves. The poll reveals that 59% of voters are against such payments, while only 28% support the idea. One notable point is that 40% of the voters are “strongly” against it.
The reasons for opposition are varied. According to the poll, only 19% of the opponents mentioned the cost of such an occurrence as a concern. The primary reasons for opposition against the reparations were the belief that it’s unjust to ask today’s taxpayers to pay for past wrongs (60% of voters) and the sentiment that it’s not right to single out one group for reparations when other groups have also faced injustices in the past (53% of voters).
Political affiliations also played a role in the poll results. Among Democrats, the split was almost even, with 43% in favor and 41% against cash reparations. In contrast, 90% of Republicans opposed the idea, with only 5% supporting it. Independents showed 65% opposition and 22% support.
According to racial demographics, 76% of Black Californian voters supported cash payments, whereas about two-thirds of white voters, as well as 60% of Latino and Asian voters, opposed it. The poll director, Mark DiCamillo, commented on the results, suggesting that while cash reparations face strong opposition, other reparations might be more acceptable to the public.
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and other state leaders have been actively advocating for reparations. In 2020, California even established a Reparations Task Force intending to create a national model for reparations. The task force has proposed various payment criteria, from health disparities to housing discrimination. They also recommend other measures like ending the death penalty, restoring voting rights to all incarcerated individuals, and implementing rent caps in historically redlined areas.
The task force acknowledges the challenge of convincing non-Black Californians about the ongoing effects of slavery. Their efforts have been focused on collecting evidence and expert testimonies to highlight the long-term impacts of slavery and subsequent discriminatory policies.
Governor Newsom noted that cash payments are not the only component when discussing reparations. He believes that understanding and acknowledging historical facts is crucial, and reparations can take various forms.
Lastly, the responses were mixed when Californians were polled about the state’s efforts to ensure equal opportunities for Black residents. 29% felt the state was doing too little, 22% felt it was doing too much, 26% believed the efforts were just right, and 23% had no opinion.