Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television and believes that in the name of reducing racial inequality, the U.S. government should hand out $14 trillion for reparations for slavery.
Johnson, the first black billionaire in America, made his comments during an interview on CNBC.
“Now is the time to go big.” BET founder Robert Johnson calls for “full and complete” reparations for descendants of slaves. pic.twitter.com/6CoR51OIXL
— CNBC (@CNBC) June 1, 2020
Johnson: Reparations The Greatest ‘Affirmative Action Program Of All Time’
Johnson said on “Squawk Box,” “Now is the time to go big… wealth transfer is what’s needed.”
He focused on racial inequity.
“Think about this,” Johnson said. “Since 200-plus-years or so of slavery, labor taken with no compensation, is a wealth transfer. Denial of access to education, which is a primary driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a wealth transfer.”
Johnson sold BET to Viacom in 2001, making the 74-year-old America’s first black billionaire.
He called reparations the greatest “affirmative action program of all time.”
Johnson said that the payment would show that white Americans acknowledge “damages that are owed” because of slavery and how that represented a “wealth transfer to white Americans away from African Americans.”
“Damages is a normal factor in a capitalist society for when you have been deprived for certain rights,” he said.
Johnson continued, “If this money goes into pockets like the [coronavirus] stimulus checks … that money is going to return back to the economy” in the form of buying goods and services.
Johnson noted that his support for reparations is not new.
“I’m not new to this challenge.” He also stressed that he doesn’t want “more bureaucratic programs that don’t deliver and don’t perform.”
“I’m talking about cash,” Johnson insisted. “We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism.”
BET founder Robert Johnson calls for $14 trillion of reparations for slavery https://t.co/fkZT7U3hcu
— Micha’el C. York (@micha_york) June 30, 2021
Are Reparations Realistic?
Merck Chairman and CEO Ken Frazier, who is black, followed Johnson on CNBC and openly doubted possible reparations.
“I don’t believe we’ll be able to get anything like that through our political system,” Frazier said.
“Leaders in the business community have to be a unifying force,” Frazier noted. “They can be a source of opportunity. They can be a source of understanding.”
“We as business leaders can step up and solve many of these economic problems for people,” Frazier added.
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