LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Robert Johnson, who became America’s first Black billionaire after selling the Black entertainment network BET, has proposed a $14.7 trillion reparations plan for descendants of slaves, but says there may be another way to institute real, lasting change.
In a free-enterprise, capitalistic system that believes in democracy and the right to vote, people need to go to the ballot box, Johnson said in an interview with CBS2 This Morning.
“I think Black Lives Matter ought to form its own political party, develop candidates, run candidates, and focus on things that are in the permanent interest of African Americans, and not be an appendage of one party or ignored by the other party,” he said.
Johnson says he’s not surprised at the protests that erupted around the world after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a Black man, died shortly after being held by the neck under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes.
“The issue though is how do we solve a problem that is in the Black community as well as a problem of bad policing?” Johnson said.
Activists have called for defunding police budgets in favor of redirecting money toward mental and social services, but Johnson called that “the wrong proposal to a difficult problem.”
“The focus should be on how to get the best talent, train the best talent, keep the best talent, and pay the best talent,” he said. “Insist upon quality talent, quality performance and to pay the police.”
He said, in some situations, police officers can be compared to doctors.
“A bad doctor can decide life or death. A bad policeman can decide life or death,” Johnson said. “But we pay our doctors because we want the best – why not pay the police who have that same ability in certain circumstances. Pay police the best.”