Whites May Qualify for Reparations Via California’s Genealogy Office Proposal

Evan Poellinger | April 18, 2024
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The state of California is considering creating an office of genealogy that will be used to help determine eligibility for reparations, prompting concerns about the office’s qualification criteria.

The California Senate Judiciary Committee approved the creation of a new state agency that would oversee the implementation of reparations in California and setting qualifications for who can receive them.

The agency, the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency (CAFA), is to have cabinet-level status in putting into effect the recommendations of the state’s previous reparations task force, which include a potential $1.2 million of payments to eligible slave descendants.

Chief among the components of this agency will be an office of genealogy that will help to set applicant qualifications. The declared qualifications initially included “descendants of a free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century,” which was amended to include “descendants of an African American chattel enslaved person in the United States.”

As no ancestry percentage qualifications have yet been determined, this has raised the prospect that whites with some quantity of black ancestry may find themselves qualified to receive reparations. As Michael Harriot wrote for the National African American Reparations Commission, “nationwide, about 3.5 percent of people who identify as white—including around 5 percent of white Californians—have at least one percent African ancestry,” meaning, “it is entirely possible that white people could claim the bulk of reparations.”

The prospect of white Americans reaping the benefits of a black-oriented movement are not unprecedented.

Rachel Dolezal, formerly the president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was revealed in 2015 to have feigned being black, as she “changed her appearance, revised her history and constructed a new family. She adopted a series of African-American ‘dads’ and presented to the world a black son, who turned out to be her brother.”

Dolezal has since changed her name to Nkechi Diallo and been fired from a teaching job with the Catalina Foothills Unified School District over running an OnlyFans account.

It remains to be seen if Dolezal, or any other white person for that matter, will seek to reap the benefits of California’s impending reparations schema.