(Los Angeles Times) California voters oppose the idea of the state offering cash payments to the descendants of enslaved African Americans by a 2-to-1 margin, according to the results of a new poll that foreshadows the political difficulty ahead next year when state lawmakers begin to consider reparations for slavery.
The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times, found that 59% of voters oppose cash payments compared with 28% who support the idea. The lack of support for cash reparations was resounding, with more than 4 in 10 voters “strongly” opposed.
“It has a steep uphill climb, at least from the public’s point of view,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS poll.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers created California’s Reparations Task Force in 2020 with the goal of establishing a path to reparations that could serve as a model for the nation. After two years of deliberations, the task force sent a final report and recommendations this summer to the state Capitol, where Newsom and the Democratic-led Legislature will ultimately decide how the state should atone for slavery.
The conclusion of the task force’s work places political pressure on Democrats to deliver on a process they started, but the unpopularity of cash payments suggests they’ll face strong political head winds.
State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who served on the task force, said he wasn’t surprised by the poll results.
“It speaks to the miseducation of most Americans when it comes to slavery and the impact that it had on this country and the impact that it still has on African Americans today,” Bradford said.
In the Berkeley poll, when voters who oppose reparations were asked why, the two main reasons cited most often were that “it’s unfair to ask today’s taxpayers to pay for wrongs committed in the past,” picked by 60% of voters, and “it’s not fair to single out one group for reparations when other racial and religious groups have been wronged in the past,” chosen by 53%.