Reparation measures are intended to be acts of justice that not only address harm but also recognize that recipients’ rights were violated.  It’s an effort to create Reparative Justice. This can happen in many different forms and arenas of community life. The Jan. 9 workshop of the Committee For Racial Justice is entitled “The ‘R-Word’; Reparations & Why It Matters” because they anticipate that this new year is going to bring some opportunities to repair past injustices to communities of color in the United States.

Timothy Lee Conley, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, Department Chair of Cinema and Film at Columbia College Hollywood, and a board member with the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council will kick off the panel discussion with an overview of what reparations might look like locally & globally and what effects they could have on communities and the country.

California has recently formed a state-wide task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans who are descendants of people who were enslaved in the U.S. This task force is under the jurisdiction of the CA Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. Its stated purpose is:  (1) to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans; (2) to recommend appropriate ways to educate the California public of the task force’s findings; and (3) to recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Task Force’s findings.

So far, this group has heard testimony about how institutional racism has impacted the racial wealth gap, the environmental degradation of communities of color, the educational inequities experienced, the access to good-paying jobs & housing, and the health disparities — to name a few of the many areas of life that are impacted by racism in our history and today.

Two members of this task force will be part of this month’s CRJ workshop about Reparations on Jan. 9 to inform participants of their progress and plans. Kamilah Moore, a reparatory justice scholar and attorney, is chair of this working group. Her master thesis explored the intersections between international law and reparatory justice for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, and their legacies.   

The other panel member from the CA Reparations Task Force is  Dr. Cheryl Grills, a Clinical Psychologist with an emphasis in Community Psychology, who has been a Professor on the faculty of Loyola Marymount University for 34 years and is Director of their Psychology Applied Research Center.

Later this month, Santa Monica will roll out the “Right to Return” policy to allow homeowners (and their descendants), who were displaced by the 10 Highway construction and the Belmar triangle neighborhood destruction, to be priorities for access to affordable housing in Santa Monica.   

Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan, the first Black woman to serve as a Councilmember, will also be joining the panel. Her stated priorities on the Council are economic recovery & justice, reimagining public safety that protects everyone in their homes & out in the community, and increased opportunities for historically disenfranchised & vulnerable communities.  She returned to her hometown after serving in the Obama administration as a Presidential Appointee in the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Executive Office of the President. She is currently the Executive Director for Getty House Foundation.

Another of our panel members on January 9th will be Nichelle Monroe, an accomplished vocal artist, whose grandparents lost their family home when the 10 freeway was built.   She currently works at Santa Monica College and was featured in a recent article in the LA Times about Black people seeking to return to Santa Monica to live under the new Right to Return Policy.

 Join them at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 9 on Zoom  for a broader understanding of reparations and how you might get involved to ensure a deeper impact.

Submitted by Joanne Berlin