WASHINGTON (AFP) – Barack Obama indirectly criticised his successor Donald Trump during a virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday, in rare public judgement from the former United States (US) president during the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Obama told graduates from several dozen historically black colleges and universities.
“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” he said as he discussed the implications of the pandemic during the online event, without naming any specific leaders.
Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office in January 2017 and rarely speaks out publicly. On Saturday he also highlighted how the health crisis has underscored racial inequality in America, and expressed outrage at the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, killed on February 23 while out for a jog in Georgia.
“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. Just as we see it 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,” he continued, without naming Arbery.