America's richest black man Robert Smith says corporations have a much greater obligation to address inequalities in society, and that many of them have benefited from hundreds of years of slave trading.
However, during an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday (August 12), Smith suggests that big corporations should make amends to those affected by the transatlantic slave trade and suggests that this is "the right thing to do".
"I think this will be a political decision that needs to be made and decided," the CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners told the news agency. "But I think companies also have to think about what is right."
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Smith suggested that companies could use their "capital to repair the communities they are directly connected to in the industries in which they operate".
"I think it has to be a very, very thoughtful approach," he added. "But I think action needs to be taken."
Smith made waves last year when, during his opening speech to the senior graduates in Morehouse, he announced that he would pay back the school loan debt of all students who graduated that day. Smith is currently valued at $ 5.2 billion, according to Forbes.
During the interview, Smith also commented on the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black communities – both of which have shed light on the issues of racial inequality in the US.
"It was the silence of the pandemic, i.e. the shelter at home, that gave all of us the opportunity to witness certain acts against the African American community," Smith told Reuters. "The assassinations of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and especially Breonna Taylor, those three at this time who raised the awareness and humanity of Americans and people around the world, say that this is simply wrong, unjust and enough is enough. "
Read the full interview here.