Government reparations is a misnomer. The taxpayers of Los Angeles County are the ones paying the reparations, and I doubt very many of them had anything to do with the government theft of this land in 1924.
Was it wrong? Absolutely. But charging the residents of 2023 Los Angeles County for the sins of the county government of 1924 seems unfair as well. Perhaps a better way would have been to find the descendants of the government officials who used eminent domain to take this land and charge them!
In 1912, Charles and Willa Bruce, a black couple, bought the plot of land for $1,225 and opened up a black beach club, reported the Los Angeles Times. These clubs were common in southern California during that period, when segregation kept black people out of “whites-only” beaches.
Facing mounting pressure from racist individuals and groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, city officials condemned the property to eminent domain in 1924, claiming that they needed it to build a park.
According to the Los Angeles County website, no park was actually built until nearly 30 years later, and the real reason for seizing the land was racially motivated.
“It is well documented that the real reason behind the eminent domain process was racially motivated with the intention of bringing an end to the successful Black business and to thwart other African Americans from settling in or developing businesses in Manhattan Beach,” the government site reads.
The county ended up forcing the black couple off of their land, paying them only $14,000 when the plot was actually valued at $70,000, according to Daily Mail. The Bruces left the beach and closed their business.
One thing that irritates me is the current value of the land; $20,000,000 seems like quite a return on the $56,000 that the Bruce family lost on the eminent domain theft. A 6% return on that money would yield about $20,000,000 after about 100 years, but the assumption that the family would have held that land for 100 years is ridiculous.
But the biggest problem with this situation is that there were undoubtedly lots of racialist shenanigans going on in the 1920s, and my guess is that a lot of it was directed at Chinese and Japanese residents. Why are they not being reimbursed for the financial injury visited upon their ancestors?
But why stop there? How many Americans from the Midwest were treated like second class citizens during the great migration of the 1930s? They deserve reparations too! And Mormons were discriminated against when they arrived in California, as were Mexicans and Catholics and Jews and …
Where does it stop?