America’s First Black Billionaire Calls For $14 Trillion In Reparations — And Wants His Own Check, Too

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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America’s first black billionaire proposed $14 trillion in reparations from the U.S. government, which he says is enough to close to black-white wealth gap, VICE reported.

Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, owns several homes, leads an asset management firm and is the first black person to own a majority stake in an NBA team, but wants cash reparations himself, VICE reported. Along with the check Johnson wants an apology for racism, including slavery and Jim Crow laws, he told VICE in an interview.

He believes the new reparations are Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education, COVID-19 relief solely for black farmers, local reparations for housing in Evanston, Illinois and pledges from corporations the past year, following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

But these reparations under a different name that aren’t seen as “divisive” or “controversial,” Johnson said. (RELATED: Black Democrats Are ‘Pushing Hard’ To Look Into Reparations For Descendants Of Slavery)

“And then people can say, ‘Well, we really don’t need reparations because when you put all of these things together, it’s reparations,” Johnson told VICE. “It’s just not one big bill or asking this country to stand up and apologize, and you’re not asking people to pay out of their paychecks.”

Johnson told Vice that the problem with current approach to reparations is what he calls “placebo paternalism.” Reparations, “with no doubt whatsoever, [were] supposed to come from the government representing the people of the country.”

Reparations had two components: The first was atonement, and the other was monetary,” he said. “With no doubt whatsoever, it was supposed to come from the government representing the people of the country. It was reimbursement, or recompense if you will, for the harm.”

Black members of congress are promoting the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, or HR 40, which would “address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery,” according to the bill.

Reparations need to be an investment program, not a charity program, which means influential and wealthy individuals like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James should also be paid, Johnson told VICE.

Johnson continues to advocate for wealth transfer and the attention of congress to get his $14 trillion proposal moving, along with The Better Opportunity and Outcomes for Socially Disadvantaged Talent (BOOST) Act, which would mobilize investors with tax incentives and encourage entrepreneurs to invest in minority businesses.

“Reparations would require the entire country to … admit that the result of slavery has been 200 years of systemic racism and for that reason Black folks have been denied $13-15 trillion of wealth and therefore we as a country now must atone by paying Black people of all stripes —the rich ones, the poor ones, and the middle—out of our pocket,” Johnson told VICE.

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