A member of San Francisco’s reparations committee, which has proposed paying the city’s black inhabitants millions of dollars in compensation for slavery, has described straight white men as a “danger to society” and claimed “white supremacy is ingrained in the DNA” of America.
Nikcole Cunningham, who serves on the 15-strong African American reparations advisory committee, told The Telegraph that white people should be held responsible for the actions of slave owners as they are “still benefiting from the harms that… [their] ancestor[s] caused”.
The committee was set up in 2020 to advise local officials on how to address discrimination in the city, and is proposing to give every eligible black resident $5 million (£3.9 million) in reparations for slavery.
Ms Cunningham’s remarks, in a rare public interview, are likely to inflame tensions between advocates and sceptics of the reparations policy.
The comments come at a time of heightened racial tensions in America after the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that universities cannot discriminate in their selection of students based on their skin colour.
As well as San Francisco’s reparations committee, a California-wide task force was set up by the governor for similar purposes. Both committees were set a deadline to file their final proposals for legislators to consider by the end of June 2023.
On Thursday the California reparations task force handed over their report to lawmakers.
Ms Cunningham was appointed to the San Francisco reparations committee because she is suing the city of San Francisco, her former employer, for discrimination over accusations they targeted her because she is disabled.
According to the committee’s draft report, eligibility requirements for the lump sum payments for black residents include being over 18, identifying as black for at least 10 years and meeting at least two of eight tests, which include being descended from slaves or having been “incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs”.
‘They have the most serial killers’
In an interview with this newspaper, Ms Cunningham said “even though” straight white men were “privileged, he [sic] has a lot of s— wrong, and I say that because even straight white men are abusive, straight white men are serial killers”.
She said: “They have the most, I watch these shows, the most serial killers. Straight white men are the ones who are shooting up schools, right?
“So they are a danger to society. Not all of them.”
Ms Cunningham criticised white men for not backing reparations, saying: “They’re not doing that.
“So if anything, they pose more of a harm than support and help. And then you got to remember their ancestors.. are the ones who were standing out here in their Sunday best watching black people hang and burn.
“So until white people come to grips with their ancestry too and make amends with them, to say, I want to be the change.”
Ms Cunningham also claimed “white supremacy is ingrained in the DNA in this country and definitely in this city”.
Her comments on racism in America are in line with statements from other members of the committee, several of whom have made almost identical remarks.
The reparations committee’s draft report refers to other groups who have received similar payments, citing Japanese Americans who were interned during the Second World War and Holocaust victims.
The committee argues despite slavery never having existed in San Francisco or California, the city and state perpetuated racist policies that continue to harm black people today.
Scott Wiener, California State Senator, told The Telegraph he supports reparations “to make good on the harm that was done”.
When asked if the state can afford the payments, he said: “There’s always a way to afford [it]… But we do have a pretty disastrous budget right now but that will shift over time.”
According to one estimate from conservative think-tank the Hoover Institution, the San Francisco reparations proposals would amount to around $175 billion, costing every non-African American household in the city $600,000.
Proposed taxing vital utilities
To pay for the vast sum, Ms Cunningham proposed taxing vital utilities, such as “water, garbage, P, G & E [Pacific Gas and Electric], internet, cable.
“You adding even $0.05 to these things, you have millions and millions, if not billions of dollars.
“But the simple fact that these are things that you have to use, who’s going to say, I’m not going to give those people reparations, I’ll turn my water off? No one.”
The committee member compared the reparations sum to the over $100 billion President Joe Biden has given to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, saying: “No one asked us, ‘Hey, Nikcole, can we send this money to Ukraine?’ They just found the money and sent it.”
The reparations proposals are particularly controversial in San Francisco, which has seen a declining population and steep rise in homelessness and drug overdoses in recent years.
The city’s annual budget stands at $14 billion, significantly lower than the estimated cost of the reparations.
The initiative is the latest in a long line of controversial proposals to pay slavery reparations to African Americans.
In 2019 The New York Times published a now-infamous essay entitled the 1619 project. It argued that America’s true founding date was 1619, when it is thought the first slaves from Africa reached the British colony of Virginia.
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