By Joaquin Flores – The founder of Black Entertainment Television Robert Johnson has an interesting proposal that would serve both as a massive economic stimulus and the final closure to several chapters of American history with the legacy of slavery. It is the 14 trillion-dollar package with a roughly $350,000 to each eligible African American.
Previously Trump expressed skepticism that reparations would be on his agenda and likewise they had never before appeared on the Democrat Party agenda but did appear for the first time during the primary debates for the Democratic nomination.
But two factors have come together in a strange way that now creates an opportunity for Trump to solve a historic problem, and at the same time, liberate black people from what many have called the Dixiecrats plantation.
At the start of the month, during the middle of the riots in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Bob Johnson put forward the proposal, but we know it didn’t come out of the blue nor was it meant as a hostile challenge which Trump couldn’t or wouldn’t consider.
In fact, the two men had been in talks prior to Johnson’s announcement, lending credibility to Beltway chatter that Trump has something in the works.
At the same time, over the weekend, on June 8th, a number of African-American activists who have left the DNC at the grassroots level and are now backing Trump met in Washington to discuss the viability and potential receptiveness of final reparations planned for black America. This would come from a Republican party which increasing layers of black America understand is the party of Lincoln.
BET founder Bob Johnson previously supported Clinton but has warmed up to president President Trump in recent years. In particular, he has lauded Trump’s pre-COVID-19 economic successes which in particular had a positive effect on the black community.
Earlier, on June 1, BET founder Robert Johnson argued that “now is the time” for the US to acknowledge damages resulting from slavery, and for the Government to provide reparations in the sum of a $14 trillion wealth transfer to help prevent the country from splitting into separate and unequal societies.
He was interviewed on June 1, following what was then the seventh day of protests against police brutality. Johnson told that “now is the time to go big,” and that the government should pay trillions of dollars for reparations to help reduce racial inequality.
Johnson called reparations the “affirmative action program of all time,” and added that they were so important because it would demonstrate that white Americans acknowledge “damages that are owed” for the injustices created by slavery.
On the same day, Merck Chairman and CEO Ken Frazier, who is black, said he was skeptical that a reparations bill would find requisite governmental support. Johnson became America’s first black billionaire when he sold Black Entertainment Television to Viacom in 2001.
“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.”
The difference in median net worth between black families ($17,150) and white families ($171,000) in America stands at $153,850, according to Federal Reserve data.
Johnson stated that he has long been an advocate of slavery reparations, “I’m not new to this challenge.”
He said he’s not advocating “more bureaucratic programs that don’t deliver and don’t perform,” adding “I’m talking about cash. We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism.”
In November of 2019, Leaders of the New Jersey’s Legislative Black Caucus introduced a bill that would establish a Reparations Task Force, which would aim to research the history of slavery within the state, any racial discrimination that stemmed from it, and how the state could help make up for it.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year, 63% of Americans believe the legacy of slavery affects the position of black people in American society today either “a great deal or a fair amount.”