The nation needs to act boldly to avoid splitting into two unequal halves, Robert Johnson said Monday. "Wealth transfer is what's needed," the founder of Black Entertainment Television told CNBC, putting a price tag of $14 trillion on the reparations. "Now is the time to go big," Johnson said. He characterized the money as a repayment after more than 200 years of wealth being directed away from black Americans, dating to slavery. "Labor taken with no compensation is a wealth transfer," he said. "Denial of access to education, which is a primary driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a wealth transfer." The payments would demonstrate that white people understand that "damages are owed," Johnson said, calling his proposal the "affirmative action program of all time."
To eliminate the inequality that began with slavery, Johnson said, "We need to focus on wealth creation and wealth generation." That divide has been growing. A report last year found that in 1992, the median net worth of white families was $100,000 higher than black families,' per Business Insider. By 2016, the difference was $152,000. Eliminating that gap would increase the nation's GDP 4% to 6% by 2028, McKinsey found. Johnson, 74, became the nation's first black billionaire, debuting on the Forbes list in 2001. The list now has more than 600 people on it, but only six are black Americans. (Read more reparations stories.)