Local Black business advocate Chris Lodgson, left, listens to a group of community residents during a discussion about reparations at Drip Espresso in midtown Sacramento. Antonio R. Harvey, OBSERVER

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Chris Lodgson advised a small group of people seeking information about reparations to be aware of individuals in opposition to compensating Black people for the past and present harms they have suffered in California.

Lodgson, a member of the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California (CJEC), provided an update on activities concerning the California Reparations Task Force at Drip Espresso, a Black-owned coffeehouse in midtown Sacramento.

Lodgson said he would not “be surprised if you see some Black folks popping up and saying, ‘Well, I’m Black and I don’t deserve reparations.’”

“We will see the enemies of reparations soon. There will be an organized, well-funded, well-resourced effort to stop this one way or another,” Lodgson said of a few high-profile African Americans already campaigning against reparations. “That means we will see a type of opposition against this we’ve never seen. And let’s just speak plainly: a lot of times the first folks they use are their own people.”

CJEC is one of seven “anchor organizations” sanctioned by the task force to host “listening sessions” organized to engage the public about reparations. It is a coalition of organizations and associations united for political education, community organizing and effective political action statewide, specifically in the interests of California’s Black descendants of slavery.

Conservative radio host Larry Elder, a Black man who unsuccessfully ran for governor in the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2021, posted his views about reparations on Twitter.

Elder has made a few comments about reparations recently after published reports surfaced that stated that the task force expects to recommend an amount of $223,000 for each eligible Black Californian. He cited that taxpayer money could go to people who were never enslaved.

“In California, those who never owned slaves will pay $233,000 in ‘reparations’ to those who were never slaves?!?” Elder tweeted on Dec. 6.

In full context, the figure was manufactured from an estimate of $569 billion to cover housing discrimination policies in the state “between 1933 and 1977,” reparations task force chairperson and attorney Kamilah V. Moore explained.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), a member of the nine-member panel, said Dec. 5 at the Capitol that the figure reported by other media outlets is not representative of the complete story.

“I don’t know where that [$223,000] came from but it didn’t come from us,” Sen. Bradford said.

Lodgson called mainstream media reports of that figure “disinformation.”

Elder on Dec. 17 posted on Twitter that whatever funding emerges from reparations will not “solve” the Black community’s plight across the nation. Other cities and states, including Sacramento, are looking at ways to determine redress.

“#Reparations will exacerbate tension between blacks and non-black reparations payers, while doing zero to solve the #1 problem in the black community: a toxic, self-defeating, angry, victicrat black culture resulting from the absence of a father married to the mother in the home,” Elder posted.

The task force submitted its first “interim report” to the legislature June 1. The 492-page, 13-chapter report details the committee’s findings thus far covering a range of historical injustices against Black Americans in general, with specific citations of systemic discrimination in California. The final report is due in July.

Soon after the interim report was submitted, Ward Connerly addressed reparations and shared his objections to it through social media platforms.

Connerly in the 1990s was president of the California Civil Rights Initiative Campaign. In that role, he was the leading African American supporting Proposition 209, the ballot initiative that outlawed affirmative action in California in 1996.

Connerly on June 4 tweeted that Prop. 209 could stymie any form of reparations for Black Californians.

“It is [Prop.] 209 that will prevent our Legislature and Governor from doing something so ridiculous as to compensate some of us based on the color of our skin or being the ancestors of slaves,” Connerly posted.

Lodgson and Connerly disparaged back and forth on Twitter. Lodgson responded to Connerly by stating “a conservative businessman from Northern California made an unjust comment.”

“In my gut, I believe you’re wrong. You underestimate the people of California. Also, just because someone might be resentful of something doesn’t mean you don’t do it [to correct] the harms,” Lodgson tweeted June 6.

“You make a good point that we should carefully consider, and I will,” Connerly replied.

Assembly Bill 3121, enacted Sept. 30, 2020, established the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. It was authored by Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber when she was a member of the state assembly.

AB 3121 charges the task force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on living African Americans, including descendants of persons enslaved in the United States, and on society.

Under AB 3121, the California Department of Justice is authorized to provide the task force administrative, technical and legal assistance.

“There will be opposition to reparations but they will fail,” Lodgson said. “They will fail and we will get reparations.”