President Donald Trump had the audacity to issue a statement acknowledging Juneteenth that was completely tone-deaf and reeked of hypocrisy.
Juneteenth is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19 which commemorates the day that the last of the slaves were emancipated in Texas.
In 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, slave owners in Texas were still holding people in bondage. That is, until major general of the Union Army Gordon Grander showed up in Galveston and relayed the message.
The holiday is often referred to as America’s other Independence Day, which would make it appropriate for the president of the United States to recognize it. However, considering Trump’s racist track record before and during his presidency, his words came across as disingenuous.
“This historic moment would not have been possible without the courage and sacrifice of the nearly 200,000 former enslaved and free African Americans who fought for liberty alongside more than 2 million Union servicemen,” Trump wrote in an official statement Tuesday morning. “These brave individuals fought to defend the God-given rights of those unjustly held in bondage.”
He added, “As a Nation, we vow to never forget the millions of African Americans who suffered the evils of slavery. Together, we honor the unbreakable spirit and countless contributions of generations of African Americans to the story of American greatness. Today and every day, we recommit ourselves to defending the self-evident truth, boldly declared by our Founding Fathers, that all people are created equal.”
Although the statement was tweeted out by the official White House account, ThinkProgress points out that it was neither echoed nor shared on Trump's personal profile, which also speaks volumes about his sincerity, or lack thereof.
From criticizing NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to declaring that the white supremacists who participated in the infamous “Unite the Right” Rally last August were “very fine people,” Trump has proven time and again that he couldn't care less about the plight of African-Americans in this country.
But there’s another pressing issue playing out in America right now that makes Trump’s statements about Juneteenth even more of a slap in the face to Americans who truly believe in equality.
Trump’s administration is currently holding thousands of undocumented families in detention centers, keeping children in cages away from their parents as they wait to be prosecuted.
More than 2,000 children have been stripped from their parents’ arms as a result of the administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy, which intends to crack down on immigrants crossing the southern border illegally.
Furthermore, on the very same day that his Juneteenth statement was shared, Trump posted tweets to his own account likening immigrants to rats and asserting that they are "infesting" the country.
All of these behaviors and more indicate very clearly that Trump does not actually believe "all people are created equal” — not African-Americans and certainly not immigrants seeking asylum and a better life for their families.