The founder of Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson has called on the US government to pay $14 trillion in reparations for slavery.
Johnson, who became the country’s first black billionaire when he sold BET to Viacom in 2001, told CNBC that the government should pay trillions of dollars for reparations to help reduce racial inequality, which has been at the center of protests across the U.S.
“Now is the time to go big,” to keep the country from splitting into separate and unequal societies, Johnson told CNBC.
“Wealth transfer is what’s needed,” Johnson said. “Think about this. 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.”
His comments come as protests continue over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck in Minnesota.
Johnson called reparations the “affirmative action program of all time,” adding they would show that white Americans acknowledge “damages that are owed” for the injustices created by slavery.
“Damages is a normal factor in a capitalist society for when you have been deprived for certain rights,” Johnson said. “If this money goes into pockets like the [coronavirus] stimulus checks … that money is going to return back to the economy,” and there will also be more black-owned businesses.
Johnson, who has called for reparations before, says they need to go beyond “bureaucratic programs that don’t deliver and don’t perform.”
“I’m talking about cash, he added. “We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism.”