Robert Johnson of BET requests $ 14 trillion in reparations for slavery

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Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, told CNBC on Monday that the US government should provide $ 14 trillion in reparations for slavery to reduce racial inequality.

The wealth gap and police brutality against blacks are at the heart of protests that erupted across the country after the murder of George Floyd last week during an arrest in Minneapolis.

“Now is the time to grow up” to prevent America from dividing into two separate and unequal societies, Johnson said on “Squawk Box.”

“Wealth transfer is what is needed,” he said. “Think about it. For more than 200 years of slavery, work taken without compensation has been a transfer of wealth. Denial of access to education, which is the main driver of income and wealth accumulation, is a transfer of wealth. “

Johnson, 74, made history by becoming the first black American billionaire when he sold BET to Viacom in 2001. Shortly after the sale, he launched investment firm The RLJ Cos. He is no longer on the Forbes billionaire list.

Calling reparations the “all-time affirmative action program,” Johnson said they would send the signal that white Americans recognize “the damage that is due” to the uneven playing field created by slavery and the decades that followed with a “transfer of wealth to white Americans.” African Americans. ”

“Damages are a normal factor in a capitalist society when you have been deprived of certain rights,” he said. “If this money goes into pockets like the [coronavirus] stimulus … that money will go back to the economy “in the form of consumption. There will also be more businesses owned by black people, he added.

Johnson said the need for repairs has been on his website for the past year. “I am not new to this challenge. He said he is not advocating “more bureaucratic programs that don’t work and don’t work.” He said, “I’m talking about money. We are a society based on wealth. This is the foundation of capitalism. “

Later, “Squawk Box,” Merck president and CEO Ken Frazier, who is black, expressed doubts about the possibility of repairs. “I don’t think we can get something like this through our political system. “However, he said,” business leaders must be a unifying force. They can be a source of opportunity. They can be a source of understanding. “

“As business leaders, we can escalate and solve many of these economic problems for people,” added Frazier, saying that education, especially financial literacy, is the “big equalizer.”

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