Donald Trump is a bigot. Let's just get that out of the way first.
And anytime he mentions black people, talk of Chicago seems to soon follow.
During his "law and order" speech at the Republican National Convention, he mentioned shootings and violent deaths in the "president's hometown of Chicago" shortly before blaming Obama for poverty in black communities. Speaking recently with Bill O'Reilly, Trump suggested he'd be able to fix violent crime in Chicago "within one week." He claimed his assertion was based on conversation with a "top" Chicago police officer, but the Chicago Police Department has denied that Trump met with anyone there.
Then, last weekend, Trump made a crass attempt to score political points following the tragic shooting of 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four, who was killed while pushing her baby in a stroller in Chicago's Parkway Gardens neighborhood. Aldridge was the cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade, and Trump tweeted:
Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2016
It took him more than an hour to offer any condolences, well after he was publicly criticized for his remarks.
This was a new low, even for Trump. And it's well past time for him to keep Chicago's name out of his mouth.
Of course, the city has its problems. I'm not saying Chicago is beyond criticism, or that its issues don't merit discussion. But Trump talking about Chicago is a shallow and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to win black votes.
When Trump talks about Chicago's problems he offers no real solutions. Rather, he uses our city as a prop for his platform. And not coincidentally, he mostly does so in front of predominantly white, suburban or rural audiences. His plan for "black outreach" seems less about authentically connecting with black people than about appealing to white voters.
Let's not forget that this was the candidate who couldn't be bothered to show up at a March rally scheduled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, citing security concerns. His incendiary remarks about Mexicans and Muslims, as well as his "All Lives Matter" antagonism towards black voters, turned out protesters in droves-setting up a showdown between activists and Trump's many white supremacist supporters. (Including a woman who performed a Nazi salute on a street corner near the UIC Pavilion.)
The UIC rally was his primary campaign's first in a diverse, major urban center as opposed to the mostly white rural and suburban areas where he'd made plenty of previous stops. Chicago displayed an unparalleled resistance to his toxic behavior.
Speaking of that Chicago rally, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski recently told a CNN panel that the candidate hasn't taken his message directly to black communities because Chicago is "not a safe environment."
Nonsense. During the course of his campaign, he's made little to no effort to show up in black communities and has turned down invitations from organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League.
And Trump hasn't appeared in Chicago since that failed event here almost six months ago. The campaign has never announced plans to reschedule, nor has it planned a follow-up event. Trump was, however, able to make an appearance in downstate Bloomington, which is 78 percent white.
Yet still, Chicago is all on his mouth like liquor.
Had he actually shown up here, Trump might have been in a better position to argue that his outreach to black and brown voters is earnest, despite evidence to the contrary.
Some officials are calling Trump's bluff. On Monday Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Trump's "got an election. He's not interested in Chicago." And in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Congressman Danny Davis gave voice to a sentiment making its way through black communities around the city: "Talk is cheap. Show us what you're going to do."
We know he won't. Trump has demonstrated that he has no interest in listening to black and brown voters. He has no solutions. He has absolutely nothing to offer the city other than the odious sight of his name on the side of a downtown skyscraper. After all that Trump has done to alienate communities of color, the notion that he could win over black voters is laughable.
Despite some calls for Trump to come to Chicago, the protests in March already make it clear that most people in the city would be just fine if he never showed up. And I'd wager they'd be even happier if he never mentioned the city again. v