San Francisco’s Proposed $5M Per Black Resident Reparations
How California’s historical role in slavery impacts present
California officially became a state in 1850. Despite what you’ve heard, California did indeed participate in slavery within its borders, including labor imported into the territory and via slave catching.
Even more recently, California — like all states in their own ways and to varying degrees — participated in the disenfranchisement of American Negroes through the use of racially discriminatory actions taken across the country. Namely, housing discrimination, loan discrimination, taxation without representation, et cetera. In fact, despite frequent cries that California “was never a slave” state, the reality is the liberal bastion does not have clean hands when it comes to harm perpetuated against American Negroes.
To more fully appreciate what California is attempting to repair, let’s start at the beginning of the state’s racial history concerning American Negroes. At the onset of the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the White settlers in California declared it an independent territory, separated from the Mexican government. Shortly thereafter, the settlers pledged allegiance to the United States, and after the U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War, California became a state in 1850 via The Compromise of 1850. Before the Compromise of 1850, chattel slavery was unregulated and was practiced in the California territory. The Compromise of 1850 required that California become a “free state.”
A point of this compromise was to prevent the expansion of chattel slavery and eliminate it in newly added territories.
Given the tensions between Americans who wanted to maintain slavery and those who wanted to abolish the vile institution, compromises were critical to shaping the racial climate of the United States. Black people born in the United States were all subject to the threat of enslavement, whether self-emancipated (runaways), born free, or born to an enslaved parent.
United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions prior to emancipation (and now) also serve the purpose of clarifying the rights and status of enslaved Black people and their progeny born in the United States.