Armstrong: Trump gets on my last nerve when he talks about 'the African Americans'

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fletcher, N.C., on Oct. 21, 2016.

FOR THE LAST TIME, Donald Trump, not all of "the African Americans" are poor and dodging bullets.

With the election just weeks away, I should be over this by now. But every time Trump even mentions "the blacks," it works my last nerve. It's so insulting.

Trump's ineptitude with race has been a recurring theme in his campaign.

Even during Wednesday night's high-stakes debate with Hillary Clinton, there he was once again talking down people of color as if we're all broke, poorly educated, jobless, and getting shot at on our way to get milk.

"We need law and order, our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs," Trump blared from the stage in Nevada.

You'd think a presidential nominee would know better.

Watching Wednesday's debate from her comfortable home in Wynnefield, Veronica Marché Jamison groaned and rolled her eyes as Trump launched into his tired spiel.

"In my household, my husband and I have four degrees between us," pointed out Jamison, a professor at Drexel University who happens to be African American. "And six jobs in various businesses and nonprofits and all these other things. [Trump's view] is just not the reality of our particular house. And it's not the reality of the families that we came from.

"But I have to say that with an asterisk, because it's not to shame the people who come from less fortunate circumstances," she added, "but just the idea that every black person comes from the inner city and is in poverty tells me that we have a presidential candidate who doesn't have any meaningful interactions with people of color."

At least Trump didn't launch into his annoying, oft-repeated "What do you have to lose?" refrain Wednesday night, but it was still there, lingering like a dark cloud.

Patricia Gilliam Clifford, who has made a second career of writing about black society in Philadelphia, became so incensed by what Trump said - and didn't say - that she posted a photo of her private-school-educated grandchildren on Facebook and wrote, "Don't (you) dare ask what do we have to lose?"

"I just wanted to send a message," the Chestnut Hill resident explained the next day. "I look at Trump and think, 'We have everything to lose.' "

Trump has stomped all over black folks' collective nerves too many times with his foolishness. One of the more glaring examples happened during the second presidential debate, when an undecided African American voter asked Trump and Clinton if each would be a president for all Americans. Trump took one look at the questioner and launched into a campaign spiel about the inner cities.

"I would be a president for all of the people - African Americans, the inner cities," Trump replied. "You go into the inner cities and you see it's 45 percent poverty, African Americans, now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities."

In a campaign full of jaw-dropping moments, this was another one. Not that we should be surprised - early in his real estate career, Trump was sued by the feds for housing discrimination.

Despite his life experiences, he has a giant blind spot. Trump has long spoken to "the African Americans" as one giant monolith, and he couldn't be more wrong. Blacks occupy every strata of society. Although many African Americans live below the poverty level, according to government data, the poverty rate among blacks living in our nation's largest cities is around 26 percent - not 45 percent, as Trump claims.

And while we're at it, Trump also is confused about where most African Americans reside. According to the Brookings Institute, more than half of all minority groups in large metropolitan areas actually live in the suburbs - not the inner cities.

"That statement [Wednesday] was no surprise in any way, if we've been listening to him during the course of the campaign," said Maurice Baynard, a college professor who lives in Fairmount. "It was only surprising in this: Anyone else who actually wanted to either woo us or convince us they care about us or honestly wanted to be president of the United States would have by now practiced an answer that was more inclusive or at least not so offensive."

I caught up with Renee Lewis-Mance, who works in mortgage banking, on Thursday as she drove to her home in the exclusive suburb of Moorestown.

"This inner city and blacks being synonymous is just an example of this one world view ... I would love to know where he even gets that from," Lewis-Mance said. "He's so out of touch.''

If Trump has not learned anything by now, he probably won't.

Not that it matters. This election's over anyway.

armstrj@phillynews.com

215-854-2223 @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen