Why Conservatives Lie About Violence in the Inner Cities

I’m really sick of hearing about the inner city as if it’s a collective of black gang members and drug dealers.

Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever,” President Donald Trump said during his 2016 campaign. “You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street.

Three “evers” is a lot when violent crime rates have gone down over the years and employment is relatively low. It’s as if Donald Trump’s only experience with an inner city is through watching the movie Freedom Writers. When is someone going to tell him that inner cities are thriving?

READ MORE: Why Black On Black Crime Isn’t An Excuse For Police Brutality

Inner cities are way safer now than they were ten or twenty years ago. Also, tons of rich people live there and tons of white people live there, while 50% of black people live in suburbs or rural areas.  And yet, my president frequently tells this country that Black people are living in hell.

According to author and activist Sarah Schulman, painting communities of color as the problem means white people can turn our punishment into a quick fix. It means that people like Trump can ignore the fact that white people live in the inner city too or that not all black people live in poverty. It homogenizes us so that he can just punish us and move on, problem solved. So much easier than actually understanding us.

We see this recently in how Trump threatened to send the FBI to Chicago to combat violence there. He frequently implies that police need to be tougher and that we need to bring back unconstitutional practices like Stop-and-Frisk. It’s like, first of all, the FBI is already in Chicago. And secondly, babysitting, profiling, and imprisoning us won’t fix the diverse set of issues that affect our communities. It just ignores them.

Schulman, who is the author of Conflict is not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair and recently coproduced the film United In Anger, compares it to when a clique shuns one of its members or a family shuns a queer relative.

“It’s this kind of removal of the human being,” she told Galore. “It’s the pretense that they don’t exist, and the false impulse to erase them rather than to understand what happened.”

Basically, it’s just Trump’s way of making an excuse to control people with excessive force.

And it’s textbook racism. It’s why the mass incarceration of people of color has become the new slavery. It’s also why we want to build a wall around Mexico and ban tons of immigrants from this country, many of whom are here legally. When the issue is as simple as seeing marginalized groups as the aggressors, punishing them becomes easier than admitting you don’t care to understand them. It means the government doesn’t have to provide resources or implement federal and state programs that help them.

“We isolate and dehumanize them,” Schulman further stated, “And clearly, this is an avoidance of self.”

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This holds communities of color responsible for the consequences of racism. It means white people, like Trump, don’t need to be critical about their role in supremacy. People who look like me are portrayed as thugs and then a more aggressive police force, that disproportionately hurts people of color, is encouraged to fix us. It’s actually scary.

Schulman thinks we need to look at the groups we belong to. We all identify with a family, clique, religion, or national identity, and we need to encourage positive versions of those groups. A positive group pushes us to be individually critical while a negative group encourages us to hurt those we see as a threat. When we exist in positive groups, we are more likely to seek understanding over methods that punish. So socially, we are responsible for encouraging each other to deescalate and negotiate.

And of course, we have to stop portraying communities of color as inherently broke and violent. It’s untrue, ignorant, and harmful. The inner city, and communities of color, don’t need to be made great again because we’re the best we have ever been. And moving forward, I hope the complexity of our issues can be addressed and made better.

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