Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday earlier this week, something that a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet had reportedly intended to do as recently as last year. According to a recent revelation on Trump’s tumultuous history with race relations, he believes he has done a lot for a group he supposedly referred to in private as “the Blacks.”
Michael C. Bender, who wrote a book about Trump that will be out later this summer, published a devastating report in Politico that included that comment and much more. The quotes in the article were taken from the book, and if that’s any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be a crazy journey.
Trump’s use of the phrase “the Blacks” in a talk about how much he reportedly had done for Black people in America went viral on Twitter, despite the fact that he was suffering with people of color in election polling.
Trump, who built practically his entire 2016 campaign on a law-and-order image, now complains that the criminal justice reform that Kushner pushed him to endorse makes him look weak and, worse, hasn’t gained him any goodwill among African-American voters.
“I’ve done all this stuff for the Blacks—it’s always Jared telling me to do this,” Trump said to one confidante on Father’s Day. “And they all f—— hate me, and none of them are going to vote for me.”
After Omarosa Manigault Newman was removed in 2017, Trump had very few individuals of color on his administration, including no one on his senior staff. Another Trump worker had been working on a proposal to make Juneteenth a government holiday before the president stirred outrage by holding a rally on the day after a summer of racial justice protests.
His association with Juneteenth was also a source of contention, with Trump asserting that he was responsible for putting the long-remembered date of the end of slavery in Texas on the map.
“Nobody had heard of it,” Trump told me.
He was surprised to find out that his administration had put out statements in each of his first three years in office commemorating Juneteenth.
“Oh really?” he said. “We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?”
Each statement, put out in his name, included a description of the holiday.
But such details were irrelevant to him. Instead, he insisted, “I did something good.”
“I made Juneteenth very famous,” he said.
The article delves into Trump’s blundering knowledge of race relations, policing, and the concerns of people of color in society. His “understanding of slavery, Jim Crow, or the Black experience in general post-Civil War as vague to nonexistent,” according to senior officials interviewed in the piece. And, while he may have had sympathy for the police treatment of George Floyd in private, he failed to communicate those feelings in public, instead opting for a more hardline, pro-police approach with incendiary tweets that sparked even more indignation.
In a separate piece, Trump is reported to have remarked that teaching critical race theory to youngsters in schools is “psychological cruelty.” So it’s safe to conclude that his point of view hasn’t altered much in his time away from the office.