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California Reparations Task Force Votes to Replace Economic Advisor

Darrick Hamilton, who was expected to bring an economic perspective to the work the group is doing, told the task force that there was some misunderstanding about the work he could provide. “I don’t think we had complete clarity at the time the (Department of Justice) made its presentation in October or September,” Hamilton said. “With F, I have great clarity given the time constraints as well as the potential budgets that are available.”

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Darrick Hamilton, a leading national authority on race and public policy, has been involved in crafting progressive policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds, which are trust accounts for low-income kids funded by taxpayers.
Darrick Hamilton, a leading national authority on race and public policy, has been involved in crafting progressive policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds, which are trust accounts for low-income kids funded by taxpayers.  

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ | California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

One day after Darrick Hamilton testified before California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, the panel decided that it would not enter into a contractual agreement with the noted economist.

Seven members of the nine-member panel voted to move forward without Hamilton. Two appointees, Loyola-Marymount psychology professor Dr. Cheryl Grills and UCLA law professor Lisa Holder, abstained.

The group’s chair Kamilah Moore said Hamilton informed the task force that he would have to narrow the responsibilities of his role, from advising on both calculations and methodology, to a “renewed or narrower scope of work.”

“I feel that the work is inseparable,” Moore said before the vote.

Hamilton was expected to bring an economic perspective to the work the group is doing, helping to quantify past economic injustices African Americans faced in the state and elsewhere, and determining what or how much compensation should be for Black people living in California.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state’s historic reparations bill into law, Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, in 2020. Former Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) authored the bill before she was appointed and sworn in as the state’s first African American Secretary of State in January 2021.

AB 3121, titled “The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” created a nine-member commission to investigate the history of slavery in the United States, the extent of California’s involvement in slavery, segregation, and the denial of Black citizens their constitutional rights.

In October, the task force approved the appointment of Hamilton, who is an economics and urban policy professor at The New School in New York City.

According to Section F of Article 2, 8301.1, of the legislation, Hamilton would have been charged with affixing “what form of compensation should be awarded, through what instrumentalities, and who should be eligible for such compensation.”

The contract would have paid Hamilton $90,000 for the scope and term of his work, Moore said. But the reduced assignment the economist requested decreases his compensation to $45,000.

“Fast forward to (Decemer 7), Dr. Hamilton essentially communicated to the task force that while he’s still able to deliver on Section F, he will no longer be able to deliver on Section E,” Moore said. “That would be doing the actual calculations for what any compensation should be. He meant that there weren’t enough resources present in the given contract, he felt that he didn’t have enough time, and he also pointed out issues of clarity on how to tackle that part of the bill.”

Hamilton told the task force that there was some misunderstanding about the work he could provide.

“I don’t think we had complete clarity at the time the (Department of Justice) made its presentation in October or September,” Hamilton said. “With F, I have great clarity given the time constraints as well as the potential budgets that are available.”

Michael Newman, the Senior Assistant Attorney General of the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section, said the DOJ was still in negotiation with Hamilton before the task force’s fifth meeting and no contracts had been signed.

“To my knowledge, he has not done any reimbursable work under the contract. The contract has not been signed,” Newman said. “Other than sort of scoping out the project, doing the initial evaluation, or preparing for his testimony, he hasn’t done anything on the project. I think he’s accrued probably reimbursable time in his initial preparation, but we’ll have to talk about that.”

Hamilton, a leading national authority on race and public policy, has been involved in crafting progressive policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds, which are trust accounts for low-income kids funded by taxpayers.

Hamilton is also a proponent of the Federal Job Guarantee, a policy that would mandate the government to provide a job for any person that needs one. Those initiatives have garnered national media attention and served as inspiration for legislative proposals across the country at the federal, state, and local levels.

In his defense, Grills said Hamilton’s knowledge, intellect and skill set are absolutely not “limited.” Hamilton is more than capable of performing the task, she explained, and said that he wanted to make sure both Section E and F would be completed thoroughly.

“I think he’s trying to caution us about what it really takes to do a careful set of calculations that are aligned with how we are defining some of the factors and understanding the costs,” Grills said. “He’s offering caution about what it takes and to do it in a way that minimizes the negative feedback that we will get on everything we do.”

With five meetings left on the agenda, Moore said that the task force will consider the services of William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. He is also the Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy, African and African American studies, and economics at Duke University.

Darity’s research focuses on racial, class and ethnic inequality and stratification economics; education and the racial achievement gap; North-South theories of trade and development; and the economics of reparations.

Darity and Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of the book, “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century,” testified before the task force during the first meeting in June.

Task Force member Don Tamaki said that Darity absolutely has the “stature” in terms of notoriety and has arrived at a number in his and Mullen’s book “anywhere from $9 trillion to $14 trillion” in terms of reparations.

As did Grills, Tamaki also warned that it doesn’t matter who does the work for 8301.1 Sections E and F. The report will get backlash, he said.

“The report is going to get criticized, scrutinized, and really taken apart,” Tamaki said. “So, it really has to be a first-rate expert in this area.

Activism

Friendship Christian Center Provides Tests, Vaccines to Thousands

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.
A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.

Friendship Christian Center Church (FCCC), pastored by Dr. Gerald Agee, is located at 1904 Adeline St. and is one of the dozens of Black churches across the state of California, who, in conjunction with the California Health Agencies and California Black Media, has stood on the front line, with the Black Press for over a year providing COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to minority communities.

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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Activism

El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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