Robert L. Johnson is best known for being the co-founder of the BET network and for being the founder of RLJ Companies. He has made several public statements about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and the public firings of individuals for racist remarks and actions.
During an appearance on CNBC on June 23, the 74-year-old discussed an open letter that he wrote which encouraged Black voters to form their own independent political party. Earlier in June, Robert appeared on the network to talk about how he believes there should be $14 trillion in reparations paid by the government to Black people because of the generations of life and potential wealth stolen as a result of slavery and Jim Crow.
On June 24, Robert appeared on Fox News, and his comments about the removal of statues and TV show cancellations got a lot of attention online. What did Robert Johnson say on Fox News?
Read BET founder Robert Johnson's statements to Fox News below.
BET founder Robert Johnson's statements to Fox News got a lot of buzz online.
The business mogul appeared on the conservative news program on June 24 to explain his point of view on political parties, those tearing down statues of Confederate leaders and historical figures like Christopher Columbus (among others), and reparations.
He explained his desire that there be a Black Lives Matter independent political party.
"African Americans should have their own interests. That's why I propose that an independent party formed by Black Lives Matter should echo the founding principles of the original Black Caucus members in 1971. [They] stated that the reason that they were coming together as a party, even though they were all elected as Democrats. They said that Black Americans should have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests," he said.
The BET co-founder then spoke about people removing statues.
"Look, the people who are basically tearing down statues and trying to make a statement are basically borderline anarchists, the way I look at it. They really have no agenda, and the idea that we're going to topple a statue because — it's not going to close the wealth gap," he said on the news program.
"It's not going to give a kid whose parents can't afford college the money to go to college. It's not going to close the labor gap between what white workers are paid and what Black workers are paid," he continued. "It's not going to take people off of welfare or food stamps."
"It's people out there having fun that they can go out and pull down a statue and have the mistaken assumption that Black people are sitting around cheering for them like 'oh my God, look at these white people, they're doing something so important for us. They're taking down statues of a Civil War general who fought for the South.'"
Robert went on to say that he also believes the removal of certain TV shows and films from networks and streaming services does not do anything effective.
Robert went on to question the reports that Amazon was considering removing The Dukes of Hazzard from its streaming service because of the show's usage of the Confederate flag. He explained that he watched the program with his family when it originally aired. He also discussed HBO Max's decision to put a disclaimer at the beginning of Gone with the Wind for its depiction of slavery.
"White Americans seem to think that if they just do emotionally or the drastic thing, that Black people are going to say, 'Oh my god, they love us because they took down a statue of Stonewall Jackson...' To me, it falls into an attempt by white Americans to assuage guilt by doing things that make them feel good," he continued.
Robert Johnson then discussed white privilege and reparations.
During the rest of his spot on Fox News, Robert talked about celebrities' platforms online and opening up dialogue.
"The notion that a celebrity could get on a Twitter feed and say 'Oh my God, I am so sorry that I am white. I don't find any Black people getting on Twitter and saying 'I am so sorry that I am Black.' And we have the worst problems hand-dealt to us of any people in this country. But we aren't running away from being Black. We're embracing being Black," he said.
"My thing is, embrace your being white and do the right thing, and then you don't have to worry about being sad because you're white. To me, when I see all of this changing names, toppling statues, firing professors because they said 'All Lives Matter,' it just shows to me that white America is continually incapable of recognizing that Black people have their own ideas and thought about what's in their best interest," Robert explained.
"If you want to decide about statues and you want to treat Black people right, why don't you do this? Why don't you get a group of Black people together and say, 'Before we go knock down the statue of Ulysses S. Grant, what do you guys think?' Give us the belief that you respect our opinion. You go out and do something and destroy something and fire somebody because you think it hurts us. Why don't you ask us first if it hurts us?" he stated.
"Before you go out and do something, ask us if we want you to do that to make us feel better. Or, if you ask us 'what would make you feel better?' and we say 'Fine. Everybody, write us a check starting tomorrow for $11,000 every year for the next 30 years, that makes us feel better. Are you OK with that?' That's what's missing in this whole thing," he said.
"To me, what white people are doing with the idea that they're making us feel good is tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on a racial Titanic. It absolutely means nothing," he concluded.