America’s wealthiest Black man Robert Smith says corporations have a much bigger obligation in addressing inequalities in society and that many of them profited from hundreds of years of slave trading.
That said, Smith, during an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday (August 12), believes large companies should provide reparations to those affected by the Transatlantic slave trade, suggesting it’s “the right thing to do.”
“I think that’s going to be a political decision that’s going to have to be made and decided upon,” the CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners told the news outlet. “But I think corporations have to also think about, well, what is the right thing to do?”
Smith suggested that corporations could use their “capital to repair the communities that they are directly associated with in the industries in which they cover.”
“I think that has to be a very, a very thoughtful approach,” he added. “But I think action needs to be taken.”
Smith made waves last year when, during his commencement speech to the graduating seniors at Morehouse, announced he’d be paying off the school loan debt of every student who received a diploma that day. Currently, Smith is estimated to be worth $5.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Also during the interview, Smith commented about the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others by police and COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on Black communities – both of which have shined a light on the issues of racial inequality in the U.S.
“It was the silence of the pandemic, i.e. sheltering at home that gave us all a chance to witness certain acts against the African American community,” Smith said to Reuters. “The killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in particular, those three in that period of time, that raised the consciousness and the humanity of Americans and people throughout the world are saying this is just wrong, this is unjust, and enough is enough.”
Read the full interview here.