A California task force narrowly voted on Tuesday to limit compensation to those who are direct descendants of people who were enslaved in the 19th century.

The 5-4 vote blocks black people who are Africans and immigrants from the Caribbean from benefitting from the compensation packages.

The eligibility question raised tensions within the task force in their long discussions.

Taskforce member and California assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer voted against limiting eligibility to the descendants of slaves. He agreed that the group should be the focus, but argued that helping the Black community as a whole would be beneficial to the whole community in the future.

So far, there is no compensation plan in place, but it is widely agreed within the group that black people have been disadvantaged through Jim Crow laws and slavery (though California did not have slavery or Jim Crow). The state has seen mass incarceration, which is also viewed as a discriminatory practice.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a first of its’ kind legislation in 2020, creating a two-year task force to study the impact and repercussions slavery still has on descendants and share their findings with the public. Some examples of suggested reparations include free college tuition and grants for businesses and churches.

Taskforce member Lisa Holder said the committee should continue hearing from the public going into preparing a reparation proposal.

“We need to galvanize the base and that is black people,” she said. “We can’t go into this reparations proposal without having all African Americans in California behind us.”

A reparations proposal is due by July next year. It will then go to the state legislature for consideration.

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