Billionaire who paid off Morehouse student loans: I still experience racism

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix (NFLX), and his wife Patty Quillin have raised $ 120 million for the United Negro College Fund and the historically black higher education institutions Spelman College and Morehouse College. The donation, the largest of its kind, was inspired in part by Robert F. Smith, CEO and Chairman of Vista Equity Partners, who announced last year that he would repay the debt of approximately 400 Morehouse College students.
Smith joined Yahoo Finance to discuss the Hastings donation, education inequality, and the pursuit of diversity among American companies.
"I'm encouraged by the fact that we're seeing executives like Reed and Patty saying, listen, we're going to do something about it. They know we've had centuries of systemic racism and it has taken the form of educational disparities, healthcare disparities, and economic disparities ... [It's a] dynamic that we really face as an urgent crisis when it comes to how we deal with just justice, ”said Smith.
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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 19: Robert F. Smith receives and honorary degrees during the 135th beginning of Morehouse College at Morehouse College on May 19, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram / Getty Images)
Smith, the son of school teachers, says education is the key to economic recovery and a way to be exposed to different people.
“It starts with people going to school together, playing in a band, playing in sports teams, so there is actually an understanding of people, of people. It is important that we create environments in which there is an equalization of educational opportunities. And that's a big step in the right direction, ”he said.
The need for financial resources
Smith said society needs to create "platforms of justice" in all areas of life "to ensure that we don't have the deserts - bank deserts on the one hand and supermarket deserts on the other".
Smith also noted that reforms must be funded. “In years K through 12, we need to make sure that we have all the elements of every child so that basically the same dollars are spent on them at school. ... [If] one part of the community spends ten times as much money as the other, you will notice differences in education and opportunities. And I think we have to think about how to make up for that from K to 12. "
When it comes to diversifying companies in America, Smith believes that internships can offer important opportunities for people in the African American and Latin American communities. Smith helped create the Intern X program, which brings together approximately 12,000 STEM students in technology companies to train and develop their professional skills.
Two female college students building machine in science robotics or engineering class
“I think these are the opportunities that give these young children an understanding and a chance, and frankly, the companies they work for to get to know each other, create awareness and experience, and potentially fully exploit potential long-term economic opportunities create time jobs, ”said Smith.
"It is embedded in the psyche of the Americans"
Smith said he is still grappling with racism today. "It affects every black person in America. I still feel it today and it's troubling," he said.
"When I spend time with my teenage children and talk about the effects of racism on them, the effects of racism that I still see when I try to raise capital ... this dynamic is unfortunately embedded. That is the the whole point 'systemic' [embedded] in the psyche of the Americans and the institutions of America. And these are the things that we have to eradicate. "
Smith said it was important today to use awareness of the current social justice movement. "It affects every moment in the life of an African American when I get into the car to drive into the store and get ice cream with my children, or ... if there is over-police dynamism on the one hand and there is a lack of respect on the other hand ... and we have to fix that, "he said.
"This affects everyone in America ... We have to regulate this as a country, we have to take the moral stronghold and set up activities that state that we are who we say we are not who we are for output."
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.
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