BET founder Robert Johnson advised CNBC on Tuesday he hopes company America will help efforts that enhance Black Americans’ access to capital with the identical vigor as many companies recently did around voting access.
Johnson’s feedback on “Squawk Box” got here sooner or later after the entrepreneur went public with a proposal that will give preferential tax therapy to capital beneficial properties on investments made in minority-owned companies. He known as on politicians in Washington to take into account his concept, which he mentioned would incentivize funding in companies which have traditionally lacked it.
“If you believe that voting rights is a primary need of the Black community, I would argue that access to capital is equal to or more so,” Johnson mentioned. “Voting rights without access to capital to build wealth is, in my opinion, an empty cup.”
Johnson, who based Black Entertainment Television in 1980, has been vocal concerning the position corporations can play in addressing racial inequality within the U.S., particularly around changing hiring practices.
While saying he does help the safety of voting rights for Black Americans, Johnson mentioned it is also key to guarantee it may possibly lead to insurance policies being enacted that meaningfully enhance financial alternative.
The founder and chairman of funding agency RLJ Companies has criticized Democrats and Republicans alike for not doing sufficient to deal with enduring inequities for Black Americans, even suggesting final yr that Black Americans form their own political party.
“It’s a glass half empty if you’re saying, ‘I’m going to give you the right to vote, but that vote doesn’t translate into you being able to build wealth for your family; send your kids off to college; provide retirement savings for you; to become a part of the economic system in the country as you deserve, giving you equal opportunity,'” Johnson mentioned Tuesday.
Johnson mentioned his message to enterprise leaders who criticized the latest election reform regulation in Georgia and publicized broad help for voting rights is: “Take the same attitude toward capital.”
“This is, after all, the capitalistic, free market economy,” mentioned Johnson, who grew to become America’s first Black billionaire in 2001 when BET’s holding firm was acquired by Viacom. “Access to capital and access to wealth … is what Black Americans need now more than ever,” Johnson added. He is not on the Forbes billionaires list.
Quite a few corporations announced commitments to addressing racial inequality within the U.S. final yr after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked renewed consideration to the long-standing financial disparities.
Some of the nation’s largest banks — resembling JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — have committed capital to initiatives centered on lowering inequality. Goldman Sachs introduced final month a $10 billion program to advance financial alternative for Black girls.
Johnson additionally weighed in on the opportunity of higher taxes on corporations and capital gains for wealthy Americans as a part of numerous legislative proposals from the Biden administration. “It comes down to, how do you use the tax code to increase … economic growth overall?” Johnson added, saying that elevating taxes on corporations “in a blanket fashion is not, in my opinion, the best way.”
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