Historians are accusing Representative Lauren Boebert of “mangling American history” for her comments stating that California “never had slavery” and hence paying reparations to black San Franciscans was “a joke.”
The reparations proposal, which the city-appointed African American Reparations Advisory Committee has constructed, looks like this: “each Black person living in San Francisco would be entitled to a lump sum of $5 million; their debts would be wiped out and they would be guaranteed a salary in line with the area’s medium income, which was $97,000 in 2022,” Newsweek reported.
Were San Francisco to approve the proposal, it would become the first large city in America to fund reparations for black Americans.
However, conservatives are opposed to reparations, arguing that California is projected to carry a $22.5 billion budget deficit next year.
Lauren Boebert doesn’t like the idea
Boebert tweeted a take on the San Francisco reparations proposal: “The fact that supposedly serious people in San Francisco are considering a plan that would give $5,000,000 in reparations to every Black resident in their city in a state that never had slavery is a joke. If they want to make the racial divide in this country worse than ever before, they’ll certainly achieve that goal!”
The tweet has gone viral – being retweeted more than 4,000 times and being viewed about 2.2 million times.
Yet the tweet contains a factual inaccuracy. “according to historians, some slaves were held in California, despite the region being admitted to the union in 1850 as a free state,” Newsweek reported. Accordingly, history professor Kevin Waite (who teaches in the UK) accused Boebert of “making false claims and mangling American history.”
“The simple fact is,” Waite said, “California did indeed have enslaved Black people – hundreds of them, at the very least. Most of them were hauled into the state during the Gold Rush years and forced to work in small-scale mining operations…California had technically outlawed human bondage, but state lawmakers turned a blind eye to various forms of slavery all around them. In addition to enslaved Black people, about 20,000 Native Americans labored in bondage in 19th century California…The deck was stacked heavily against Black people in California in the mid-19th century. They weren’t legally allowed to testify against whites in court (nor were Chinese people or Native Americans). And so, in dozens of cases, California courts ruled in favor of slaveholders and returned freedom-seeking Black people to slavery.”
“What Lauren Boebert doesn’t know about American history could fill the Library of Congress,” Waite, who wrote West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire, concluded.
Right, I’m not going to go to Boebert with any history questions. And I’ve been deeply critical of Boebert in the past; I don’t take her seriously.
But she makes some good points here. Five million dollars to each black San Franciscan? Plus, a nearly six figure per year salary? Plus, all debts wiped out?
That sounds less like reparations and more like winning the lottery. I can appreciate that slavery was an abomination that left a hurtful legacy. Yet, I have reservations about reparations. I’m not staunchly opposed but I have reservations. And the proposal being flouted in San Francisco doesn’t sit well. I’d have trouble getting behind a package like that. Historical inaccuracies aside, I think Boebert might be making sense on this one.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
March 22, 2023 at 9:45 am
you guys at 1945 always try to put one over on your viewers believing we will not see through your actual goals on your sly attempts at misdirection of your actual goal in your opinion. This piece for instance is a ht piece against the reparations, and not against boebert. And this is your usual trickery