17 May 2020

Barack Obama now accuses Donald Trump's administration of not 'even pretending to be in charge'

Former US President Barack Obama has taken another swipe at Donald Trump's administration over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic by saying a number of officials 'aren't even pretending to be in charge'.

In a virtual address to graduating students, Obama hit out at his successor for the second time in a week having previously called the handling of the pandemic ‘an absolute chaotic disaster’ in a leaked conference call.

During his address on Saturday, which was delivered during Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition, an event for historically black colleges and universities which was broadcast on social media, Obama claimed the crisis had exposed failings in the country's leadership.

"More than anything this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing," said the former President.

"A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," he added.

Obama, who left office in 2017, also reflected on the impact the pandemic is having on black and ethnic minority groups across the country and how it is highlighting the chasm between black and white communities.

"A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country," he said.

“We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities.”

African Americans make up a disproportionate number of the number of hospitalisations and 89,000 coronavirus deaths in the US.

Obama used the February killing of an unarmed black jogger as a means of highlighting these inequalities.

Ahmaud Arbery was shot by two white men when he refused to answer their questions.

“When a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him, if he doesn't submit to their question" demonstrates these inequalities, he said.

He continued by urging students to take the future into their own hands despite the uncertainty surrounding it.

“These aren’t normal times," he said. "You’re being asked to find your way in a world in the middle of a devastating pandemic and a terrible recession.

"If the world's going to get better, it's going to be up to you." 

Other speeches for the virtual ceremony were made by actor Kevin Hart as well as California's Senator Kamala Harris who said: "As graduates, you now join the ranks of national and world leaders, influencers.

“I know this is a trying time, but please do not let the moment of this crisis dampen your ambitions, your hopes or your dreams, because your country needs you."

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