Robert Johnson said this week the United States owes the Black community trillions of dollars in reparations.
The BET founder argued there should be a wealth transfer to Black people to make up for centuries of free labor.
“Wealth transfer is exactly what’s needed,” Johnson said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. “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.”
Johnson named a number in a statement released on the same day.
“Is $14 trillion too much to ask for the atonement of 200 plus years of brutal slavery, de facto and de jure government-sponsored social and economic discrimination and the permanent emotional trauma inflicted upon black Americans by being forced to believe in a hypocritical and unfulfilled pledge that ‘all men are created equal?’” Johnson said.
The mogul used the business world to explain the logic in compensating Black people for slavery.
“Reparations, in the form of monetary recompense for damages, is not new in this country or the world. It should be completely understood in a nation built on a foundation of capitalism that, no one should be deprived of the benefits of their labor without due process of law,” he continued.
Johnson added, “Therefore, the purpose of reparations, as presented here, is to acknowledge to 40 million Black Americans, the decedents of slaves, that you are owed damages for the evil that was visited on your ancestors.”
Johnson’s numbers of $14 trillion distributed to 40 million African-Americans translate to $350,000 for each Black person. A recent Forbes article on Johnson’s proposal says the difference in median net worth between Black and white households is roughly $154,000 per family,
The businessman is no stranger to controversial commentary. Last year, Johnson caught flak from African-Americans after he praised President Donald Trump for doing “positive things” for the economy that benefited the Black community.
“There used to be an old saying, ‘When White America catches a cold, African-Americans get pneumonia.’ It’s going the opposite way now. White unemployment is going down, African-American unemployment is going down. That’s a plus-plus that you can’t argue with,” told CNBC in September 2019.
“I give the president credit for doing positive things; when I see a president doing positive things, particularly for African Americans.”