Twitter is abuzz after the GOP nominee's response to an African American man's question during the second presidential debate seemed to indicate that Donald Trump solely associates the African American community with living in inner cities, something which is both untrue and incredibly egregious.
During the debate, audience member James Carter asked the candidates the question, "Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?" Trump answered the question first and his response consisted of a lengthy discussion of "inner cities" and, interestingly, NAFTA, the former of which he seemed to directly equate with African Americans and Latinos.
"I will be a president that will turn our inner cities around," Trump asserted, "...African Americans. The inner cities. Devastating what's happening to our inner cities. The same with the Latino Americans. The Hispanic Americans. The same exact thing, they talk, they don't get it done. You go into the inner cities and you see there's forty five percent poverty, African-Americans have forty five percent poverty in the inner cities. The education is a disaster. Jobs are essentially nonexistent. I mean, it is -- you know and I have been saying it in big speeches where I have twenty and thirty thousand people what do you have to lose?..."
1. Not Synonymous
Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson informs Donald Trump that not all African Americans live in the inner city
2. Dangerous Words
A Twitter user calls out Donald Trump about the racist nature of his rhetoric on inner cities and minority communities
3. Encouraging Divisiveness
A Twitter user speculates on the state of race relations under a hypothetical Trump presidency
Understandably, Twitter's reactions to Trump seemingly equating inner cities with African Americans and Latinos consisted of shock and condemnation. Users criticized Trump for seeming to directly associate the African American man asking the question at the debate with inner cities and the problems faced by those who reside in them, as well as for more broadly seeming to link the entire African American and Latino communities to inner cities (and not mentioning them outside of that context).
Users pointed out the fact that not all African Americans and Latinos live in inner cities and that Trump implying that they do is both not at all reflective of reality and incredibly racist. Furthermore, users criticized Trump's unfair characterization of cities themselves; instead of the bleak picture of cities that Trump paints, many cities are indeed thriving and experiencing political and economic successes.
Trump's rhetoric about inner cities and minorities is not only incorrect and offensive, it is also downright dangerous and does nothing to address or propose solutions to the systemic racism that exists within the United States. Zeba Blay of the Huffington Post captures this sentiment well, stating that
"Every time Trump invokes this image of “the inner city,” he’s misdirecting an important conversation and subtlety placing the blame of the state of black America on black people, instead of the system that’s set up to disenfranchise so many. The way he talks about and to black voters is not only insulting, it’s just downright absurd. "
Even though Trump tends to claim that "words are just words," they can very insightful. Trump's rhetoric on inner cities during the presidential debate tonight demonstrates a complete disregard for the nuance and diversity of minority communities as well as an inability to address their needs.