Why not Reparations for White Californians too?
Despite the fact that California was never a Slave State, Governor Gavin Newsom has set up a slavery reparations taskforce to pay out reparations to the descendants of Black slaves. The reparations taskforce has not been voted upon by Californians, but has put forth a proposal that will be voted upon by the state legislature. Since the BLM protests in 2020, there has been a push for reparations in California from leftwing activists. For instance calls to use the State’s budget surplus to address the racial wealth gap. The taskforce’s focus is not just reparations but also to craft policies designed to end the racial wealth gap in California.
While the taskforce recently voted to limit eligibility for repreparations to the direct descendants of slaves, there was an earlier failed amendment that would have pushed “for a broader definition of eligibility that would have included all 2.6 million African Americans in California, with “special consideration” for those with direct lineage to enslaved persons.” Some BLM activists are still demanding that all Blacks, including immigrants who have no ancestral links to slavery in America, be eligible for reparations. However, even the chairwomen of the reparations taskforce admits that a lineage based, rather than a race based approach is less likely to be challenged on constitutional grounds.
As the politics of reparations takes off, there was also a proposal for reparations payments for the incoming White Minority, to heal wounds. This was not some White Nationalist or Alt-Right proposal, but rather from the very liberal publication of Salon. Salon’s Giles Ryan, proposed that “Aside from reparations for things in the past, we should also consider reparations for things in the near future, and compensate in advance for an injustice which has not yet happened, but certainly will,” in order to help Whites cope with “ inexorable demographic shift that will, within decades, make white people a minority in America.” Ryan added that “in the hope of preventing more outbreaks of violence — for which the white population is fully armed and prepared — we should consider payment to white Americans before demographics do their damage. Yes, pay them beforehand, soften the blow in advance and conciliate their good will while we still have the chance.”
While the proposal comes across as facetious, a satire to ridicule White grievances, it touches upon an interesting angle of bribing aggrieved Whites to accept the new diverse America, where they will have much less power than they did in the past. This is more of a carrot and stick approach to pay Whites to be anti-racist or at least accept their demographic disposition, rather than just de-platforming or criminalizing White ethnocentrism. This proposal also echoes woke accusations that presidential candidate Andrew Yang wanted to buy off the bigots with a UBI, thus freeing them from moral culpability. However, Ryan’s point that “Don't white people deserve compensation for injustice too? OK, maybe not — but bribing them is another story,” glosses over that existing government set asides for minorities are not based upon a moralistic sense of justice but rather a more practical politics of buying identity groups’ loyalty and compliance to the system. For instance a major motive behind LBJ’s Great Society was to stifle civil unrest amongst aggrieved Blacks.
This patronizing proposal to address White grievances also shows signs of an inevitable multicultural and multi-ethnic future where Whites will play the racial spoils system. For instance Ryan also pointed out that the White right believes “that their benefits have been fairly earned or paid for with salary deductions over a lifetime, and that socialism means any benefit that isn't earned or paid for, like welfare.” Ryan has a legitimate point that White conservatives associate socialism with subsidizing outgroups, but in the future Whites will have to demand and lobby for their piece of the pie, alongside other groups. There are already signs of a kind of White friendly “socialism,” such as the strong White populist support for Andrew Yang’s UBI, Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban giving out subsidies to raise the fertility rate of native Hungarians, and even some populist pandering GOP politicians flirting with a soft version of socialism.
California is the perfect place to propose reparations for Whites since it already has a reparations taskforce and due to the severity of demographic dispossession. For instance California’s White population dropped by 3% in just the last 4 years and California’s public school enrollment is now at an abysmal 21.7% White. Looking at specific White grievances, California is doing much better than the rest of the nation as far as deaths of despair. However, California’s suicide rates are highest amongst White Californians with White suicide rates in 1999 and 2000, hovering “between 9 and 12 per 100,000,” which is about twice that of “rates for blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders” which range from 5-7 per 100,000. Both suicide rates and opioid overdose deaths in California are overall highest in rural White counties in the northern portion of the state. These rural White communities have been economically and politically disenfranchised by Sacramento and need a massive injection of funds from the State.
Even the economic stats on California’s racial wealth gap are misleading because downwardly mobile Whites are more likely to leave the State. I would go further and say that areas facing White demographic decline or displacement, regardless of class as even wealthy areas are experiencing White decline, need specialized funding and housing policy packages. Why not offer generous tax breaks for any White family who has 2 or more children, and for White Californians to return to or relocate to California from out of state?
Imagine a hypothetical proposal for White Californians to demand reparations from California’s various intuitions that bare culpability for their demographic disposition. One could make the case that the demographic decline of White California is a soft ethnic cleansing, in that there is little to no violence, but rather the culprit is poor public policy, that contributes to White flight and declining family formation. While the dissident right’s White genocide meme comes across as cooky, the UN’s definition of genocide includes “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group,” and “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Public policy such as in housing and education certainly impacts demographic migration patterns and fertility. However, it is hard to prove malicious intent in a court of law, that there are policies in place intended to reduce a particular ethnic groups demographic presence. California is just a hypercompetitive place, and the same polices impact the growth rates of non-Whites. For instance both White and Black Californians are declining in population, and the mass Black exodus out of California could be a motive behind the push for reparations. Basically Democratic politicians and Black activists want to pay Black Californians to stay in order to maintain the Black demographic.
I could envision a hypothetical reparations taskforce where representatives from all the main ethnic groups in California meet together to lay out their grievances and divvy up the pie proportionally. Hypothetical White demands might include reparations from educational institutions responsible for forced school bussing practiced in California in the 70s and 80s, that was responsible for mass White flight, and could fall under the UN’s definition of forcible transferring of children. Also Whites who left California should demand reparations from political leadership whose policies, that caused a decline in their quality of life, were responsible for them leaving. Why not demand reparations from the Democratic Party, which embraces the demographic transformation for political hegemony. Demand reparations from the NIMBYs who block housing for Whites to start families, and from wealthy foreign investors and private equity firms who further drive up the costs of housing. Demand reparations from corporations, state bureaucracies, and educational institutions that discriminate against Whites, and from the media networks that promote anti-White propaganda. Also allow those who have been de-platformed, who are disproportionately White, to sue Big Tech for violating their right to free speech. And let’s not forget Big Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic.
While I am obviously being facetious with these hypothetical reparations proposals, what I call for is a symmetrical multiculturalism to replace the existing woke asymmetrical multiculturalism. This new multiculturalism could include “platinum plans for all, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, European Americans, and Latinos, with specialized plans tailored to each group’s specific needs.” Helping communities with specialization based solutions is a much more positive and productive alternative to moralistic divisive woke politics. The foundation for maintaining coexistence in a multi-ethnic society must be taking care of peoples’ basic needs, which could include a basic income, and race politics based upon reciprocity, in which different groups agree to treat each other decently for mutual benefit, rather than morally blackmailing one group into helping an outgroup who does not respect them.
While I generally oppose reparations, the one scenario where it might work would be a onetime cash payout and then granting the groups receiving reparations some autonomy. For instance I can support the Supreme Court’s decision to grant autonomy to Native American Reservations in Oklahoma. However, further granting groups autonomy would demand freedom of association, which would mean scrapping much of the Civil Rights act. Besides, empowering minorities via granting them alternative institutions might appeal to a faction of Black identitarians, but would be opposed by the entire Civil Rights establishment.
The reality is that reparations would not be a onetime payout that would heal past wounds and usher in racial harmony. If implemented, reparations would further empower woke racial grievance politics, with demands for even more racial set asides, until all racial equity objectives are met. The case has been made that existing affirmative action programs are a form of reparations. Even if reparations are limited to Foundational Black Americans, it paves the way for more demands for affirmative action programs that benefit immigrants. Taking into account that Black immigration to America is rapidly growing, and immigrants are also encourage to embrace the grievance culture. For instance the special woke BIPOC category also includes Black and “Indigenous” immigrants, and Nigerian immigrants, who are generally prosperous in America, immensely benefit from affirmative action. Racial grievance politics is totally compatible with the interests of the corporate establishment, as far as diversifying the workforce and corporate boards, while maintaining corporate profits and the corporate managerial power structure. Also affirmative action functions as a form of austerity, as it operates under the scarcity of zero-sum competition, rather than demands for full employment and decent wages for all. Not to mention major grift operations such as Black Lives Matter donations being used to buy a $6 million Southern California Mansion.
While I can respect the principled argument that both Foundational Black Americans and Native Americans have a unique experience and unique grievances within the framework of American History. However, these principled moral arguments are irrelevant as racial grievance politics are about power. Just look at the horrific enslavement of Africans in Libya after the toppling of the Gaddafi regime, which former President Barrack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bare culpability for. In the end, the moral culpability for these atrocities did not matter, as there was still immense support from Black voters and civil rights activists for Obama’s reelection and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The objective of reparations politics is to secure loyalty to the Democratic Party and a power grab directed against Whites. This is why conservatives always lose when debating race on moral grounds.
Regardless, slavery reparations are still considered a fairly leftwing idea, with most Americans opposing reparations, including 83% of Whites and 54% of Hispanics in opposition, with only Blacks supporting reparations by 74%. Californians might be a bit more receptive to the idea, but California is actually more moderate on race than perceived. For instance Prop 16 to reinstate affirmative action in California lost, and was rejected by both Whites and Asians, and divided among Latinos evenly, with African Americans as the only demographic to support the measure by wide margins. Recently a Judge on Los Angeles’s County Superior Court struck down a law, signed by Governor Newsom, that mandated diversity on corporate boards. The slavery reparations proposal might pass the legislature but would fail miserably if it were put to a vote, with majorities of Whites, Latinos, and Asians likely opposing it. By endorsing reparations and other woke policies, Governor Newsom could be electoral vulnerable to the candidacy of Michael Shellenberger, who has the potential to appeal to moderates and even a sizable chunk of Democratic voters.