BET founder Robert Johnson explains why his call for the payment of $14 trillion in reparations to African-Americans is necessary to move forward in America.
Johnson told host Bret Baier that Americans must look at the passing of time in “total context.”
“Part of that context is people have a right to protest when they see injustice. That goes all the way back to Dr. Martin Luther King,” he said. “But on the other hand, we have to go to the root cause of people’s protesting that leads to violence, whether it is agitated violence or just violence because people feel frustrated and bitter.”
Johnson cited the Kerner Commission Report on the 1967 race riots, which famously stated: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”
“To me,” Johnson said, “the fundamental cause is the economic inequality that African-Americans as a whole face in this nation and unless we move aggressively to solve that problem … this riot will be the foundation of future riots unless we solve that problem.”
Baier asked Johnson who would be responsible for providing the $14 trillion in reparations and how the U.S. can afford it at a time of economic turmoil.
“The taxpayers will pay for this because for two reasons, particularly,” Johnson responded. “One, it is an atonement for 200-plus years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crowism, and the denial of people opportunity rights. But, the result of that payment would be to bring African-Americans equal to White Americans in terms of opportunity, wealth and income.
“Instead of looking at it as a payment, look at it as an investment in 40 million African-Americans who deserve equal treatment and equal opportunity.”
Johnson added that the return on that investment would include more African-Americans “taking responsibility to build their communities [and] families [and] to become successful business people and entrepreneurs who pay taxes and contribute to society.”
“But unless White America recognizes the need for reparations to atone for this, this country will always be … ‘separate and unequal’.”
Mitch McConnell has said, “No one currently alive was responsible for that [slavery],” “And I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate — first of all it would be hard to figure out who to compensate for.”
Baier also read a Joe Biden quote from 1975, in which the then-U.S. senator said he doesn’t feel “responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather, but I do feel responsible for the sins of my own generation. And I will be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
“I look at it this way,” Johnson responded. ” … We have tried every prescription that the senator [McConnell] has put forward, that Joe Biden put forward and that President Trump could put forward. We’ve talked about let’s educate African-Americans. We’ve talked about let’s build inner cities … and invest in apprenticeship and training. The end result, Bret, is none of that has ever worked,” he said.
“I think there is a problem,” Johnson added, “and this is what I think is the cause, that White America has an inability to embrace the notion that the original sin of slavery deserves some recompense. My argument is there is no problem in trying to implement a cash payment to 40 million African-Americans to let them achieve equality of opportunity that has been denied to them for over 200 years.”
“If Elon Musk can put a rocket ship on the moon; we have some of the brightest minds in business and information and data analysis,” he concluded. “There is nothing in this country other than the mindset that black Americans do not deserve cash reparations that keeps this from happening.”