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Reparations rally

A reparations rally in 2002 in Washington, D.C. | Source: Getty Images / Getty

On Tuesday, the NAACP San Francisco Branch tweeted a statement rejecting a reparations proposal to shell out $5 million payouts to Black adults who are descendants of enslaved people with a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years. The NAACP branch opposed the idea of a cash payout in favor of “creating and funding programs that can improve the lives of those who have been impacted by racism and discrimination is the best path forward toward equality and justice.”

It’s a bit of a baffling stance because, first, a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years will certainly improve the lives of many Black people, and, secondly—why not both? What’s with the “either-or” attitude when it comes to cash payouts and funding revolutionary programs? It just seems like some folks have a limited imagination when it comes to how reparations can work,

Anyway, in a statement released on Thursday, the San Francisco NAACP clarified its position on the $5 million cash payout. And by “clarified,” I really mean the branch appeared to backtrack on its rejection of the idea of reparations in the form of cold hard cash and, instead, explained that its rejection had more to do with its disbelief that the committee would follow through on that sort of promise.

The statement began with somewhat of a contradiction to the branch’s two-day-old position that the Board of Supervisors should “reject a one-time $5 million reparation payment to Blacks.” Now, the branch is saying it feels “there should be some form of cash payments in installments to each Black American according to the agreed upon qualification,” but it claims the board has already rejected the idea. (Which is weird because the NAACP was literally just calling on the board to reject the idea.)

“Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and Budget Chairperson Supervisor Connie Chan have stated privately and openly ‘NO’ on the cash payment as a form of reparations for Black Americans,” the branch claimed in the statement. “We know that other board members share this position, and it will only frustrate, set up and provide false hope to Black people in San Francisco, thinking they will get $5 million when the Board members oppose.”

So, to clarify, it isn’t the NAACP branch that opposes the cash payout. Well, actually they do, but only because the board members opposed it first, which is why the NAACP branch is calling on the board to reject the thing it already opposes.

Nah, don’t worry, that’s not confusing at all.

Look, man, Black people are not just waiting around all day for reparations to fall from the sky. We’re not out here checking the weather every morning to see if it’s going to rain white community-provided dollar bills over the Black community. So, the narrative that Black people in San Francisco will be “frustrated” and provided with “false hope” feels a bit convoluted when literally any reparations proposal runs the risk (a likely risk at that) of never getting off the ground.

Anyway, the branch went on to reiterate that “there should be some form of cash payments” but it called the $5 million proposal an “arbitrary number” and said, “more than $5 million may be needed.”

So, in one breath, the branch claims the $5 million figure will ultimately be rejected, but the branch is also suggesting that the same board should consider a higher number.

I mean, the branch members are a lot closer to this thing than I am, so maybe they know what they’re talking about. All I’m saying is its so-called clarification of its stance is leaving me with more questions than answers.

But the branch went on to claim it was the first organization to present a more “practical” proposal to the board in 2019. That plan, of course, suggested the aforementioned programs that would improve Black people’s lives.


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