Donald Trump has a strange way of trying to win African-American voters.
Instead of saying how African Americans would benefit from his policies on the economy and education, Trump’s outreach essentially consists of telling predominately white audiences how bad life is in the Black community.
Speaking to an almost all-white audience recently in Dimondale, Mich., Trump stereotyped Blacks as living in utter desperation and dire poverty.
“What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump? he asked. “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?”
As he often does, Trump ignores facts to make a political point.
But facts matter.
While poverty is a significant problem for many African-American households, the vast majority of the nation’s more than 37 million African Americans are not poor. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 26 percent of African Americans live in poverty, compared with 15 percent of the country as a whole.
The unemployment rate for African Americans is 8.4 percent, which is nearly double the national average of 4.9 percent. The unemployment rate remains too high but still the overwhelming majority of African Americans are working.
Trump is way off base when he says 58 percent of African-American youth are unemployed.
The unemployment rate for Black youth is 19.2 percent — about one-third of the rate Trump uses, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trump’s recent remarks about the conditions that African Americans are living under are part of a pattern by him of stereotyping whole groups of people, whether they are Mexican immigrants or Muslim Americans.
While the African-American community has its challenges, Trump exaggerates the conditions for all African Americans. Contrary to his distorted view of Black life in America, there are safe and stable working, middle- and upper-class Black communities across the United States.
The distortions raise questions as to whether Trump’s goal is really a sincere outreach to African Americans or is an appeal to prejudiced whites by reinforcing stereotypes about African Americans.
Some have observed that Trump is seeking to appeal to moderate whites by expressing concerns about the African-American community.
Some have suggested that the Republican presidential candidate has been trying to deflect criticism that he is running a racist campaign by his new expressed concerns for African Americans.
Regardless of his motivation or intention, Trump is not courting the African-American vote in a way that is respectful.