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Robert Johnson calls on companies to place voting rights vitality into capital entry for Black Americans

BET founder Robert Johnson instructed CNBC on Tuesday he hopes company America will help efforts that enhance Black Americans’ entry to capital with the identical vigor as many corporations lately did round voting entry.

Johnson’s feedback on “Squawk Box” got here sooner or later after the entrepreneur went public with a proposal that may give preferential tax remedy to capital positive aspects on investments made in minority-owned companies. He known as on politicians in Washington to think about his thought, 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 round altering hiring practices.

While saying he does help the safety of voting rights for Black Americans, Johnson mentioned it is also key to make sure it could possibly result in 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 handle enduring inequities for Black Americans, even suggesting final 12 months that Black Americans type their very own political celebration.

“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 current 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 turned 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,” added Johnson, who’s not on the Forbes billionaires checklist.

Plenty of corporations introduced commitments to addressing racial inequality within the U.S. final 12 months after the homicide 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 targeted on lowering inequality. Last month, Goldman Sachs introduced a $10 billion program to advance financial alternative for Black girls.

Johnson additionally weighed in on the potential for larger taxes on companies and capital positive aspects for rich 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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