Robert Johnson, the founder of BET and an avid critic of activists on the left of the political spectrum, thinks the removal of confederate statues is not an important issue for Black people.
The death of a Black man named George Floyd in Minnesota last month has sparked a lot of unrest around the country and launched conversations about police brutality and racism.
Some proponents of the Black Lives Matter movement used the opportunity to go after statues and other symbols of the country’s complicated history involving race.
Businesses, artists like the Dixie Chicks were forced to drop their old names. A few critics believe that activists should focus more on institutional changes instead of bringing down racist landmarks.
Johnson, who has said nice things about President Donald Trump in the past, told Fox News this week: “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 continued: “It’s not going to close the wealth gap. It’s not going to give a kid whose parents can’t afford college 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. And it’s not going to take people off welfare or food stamps.”
The billionaire also pointed out: “[They] have the mistaken assumption that black people are sitting around cheering for them saying “Oh, my God, look at these white people. They’re doing something so important to us. They’re taking down the statue of a Civil War general who fought for the South. You know, black people, in my opinion, black people laugh at white people who do this the same way we laugh at white people who say we got to take off the TV shows.”
Johnson encourages white allies to listen and engage Black people instead of assuming things: “If you want to decide on 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 Grant or this, what do you guys think.”
While most people agree with the points he has made on this subject, the business mogul has made some controversial remarks in the past like when he linked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to cocaine.