BET founder calls for $14 trillion in reparations for black Americans

Andrew Kerr, DCNF

The founder of Black Entertainment Television said Monday that the federal government should provide $14 trillion to the descendants of slavery to combat racial inequality in America.

“Now is the time to go big,” Robert Johnson said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday. “We need to focus on wealth creation and wealth generation and to do that we must bring the descendants of slaves into equality in this nation and that’s what I propose with this $14 trillion proposal.”

“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.”

Johnson, who became America’s first black billionaire in 2001 after he sold BET to Viacom, said reparations are necessary to atone for the sin of slavery and Jim Crow-era injustices and to “cause America to live up to the concept and the notion that this nation was born on the idea of American exceptionalism.”

Johnson said if reparations were distributed like the coronavirus stimulus checks, those funds would eventually return back to the economy and produce more black-owned businesses.

The call for reparations comes as riots have erupted across the nation after video showed death of George Floyd, a black man killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for minutes while he said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

Minority-owned businesses have been damaged by the rioters and looters. Korboi Balla, a black firefighter who invested his life savings into opening up a sports bar in Minneapolis saw his life’s work go down in flames last week because of riots in the city.

“It hurts, man. It’s not fair, it’s not right. We’ve been working so hard for this place. It’s not just for me, it’s for my family,” Balla told CBS.

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