In San Francisco, a broader plan to compensate for systemic racism is controversial

San Francisco was the scene of a lively controversy Wednesday after the City Council presented a “reparations” plan to offset a legacy of systemic racism.

The plan calls for allocating five million dollars to every African American in the city. In addition to its primary action, it contains a hundred recommendations and proposals, for example, an annual income of nearly $100,000 for every eligible black adult for 250 years, a house in San Francisco for a dollar per family, or the cancellation of beneficiary loans.

Discussed at a public meeting Tuesday evening, the plan was implemented by a city-appointed commission to develop proposals to redress the inequities suffered by African-Americans in the U.S. since slavery.

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“Black lives matter. You have an opportunity to prove that today, and do it with compensation,” Yolanda Williams, a black police officer who campaigns for law enforcement reform, told the City Council on Tuesday.

A plan is reduced to the same size

Its opponents denounce the plan as “absurd”. “It’s nothing serious, nothing more than a waste of time, it’s a total distraction,” Republican Party leader John Dennis told AFP. “The city’s (annual) budget is $14 billion,” he said, estimating the project’s cost at “50 billion.”

The city has tens of thousands of African-American citizens, and eligibility criteria have yet to be determined. A final report must be submitted in June, and then the municipal council must decide.

Civil rights activists are urging that the plan not be reduced to a one-size-fits-all measure. “To turn this issue into a fight for $5 million is wrong and dishonest,” Amos Brown of the NAACP told AFP. “It doesn’t show all the fear and pain we’ve gone through. $5 million and specific programs for all we’ve endured to support economic development, housing, health and education,” is my position.

Repair projects taken up in several cities

The idea of ​​reparations for systemic racism is gaining traction among the American left in the face of studies showing that American public policies have increased the chances of African Americans being poor, unemployed or incarcerated for decades. .

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After the “Black Lives Matter” movement in 2020, California set up a commission on the matter, whose report is still pending. Many cities have done the same.

In 2021, the municipality of Evanston, near Chicago, became the first American city to adopt a reparations program, specifically allocating financial assistance to its African-American residents to renovate their homes. But the plan proposed by San Francisco is more ambitious.

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