top photo credit: Aljazeera America

Photographs like this one became a part of America’s collective memory in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Baltimore, and many other cities in the last couple of years. We remember the shootings of unarmed black young men, of police officers, and of so many others. We remember the rise of the controversial Black Lives Matter movement, and of its equally controversial opposition. We all remember the images of the flames that cropped up around the country.

It’s now 2017. The U.S. has a new president, and aside from protests in Charlotte, NC, events on the scale of Ferguson have not dominated much media coverage. That has not, however, stopped President Donald Trump from speaking about them.

In 2016, during the presidential debates, Trump made several statements in regard to what he calls America’s “inner cities.” He describes them as such: “African-Americans now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities. The education is a disaster. Jobs are essentially nonexistent.” He also said that life in said areas is like “living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.” He prescribes to the notion that law has broken down in areas that are predominantly black. And the solution to the problem he perceives is order. Many would call it force.

While Trump has a point about the prevalence of gun violence, poverty, and inequality, many of his claims are refuted after cursorily browsing statistical data. But how did Trump get it into his head that America’s black communities look like a “war torn country”?

In our next feature, the Collie will investigate Donald Trump’s claims about the “inner city,” one by one. We will examine the roots of Trump’s (and the political Right’s) idea that somehow America’s black communities have become lawless. We will look at the real problems facing many of these areas today, particularly in parts of Chicago. Finally, we will evaluate whether Donald Trump’s proposals for bettering America’s poor metropolitan communities can actually work, and if not, what would?

This will be our most complicated feature to date. While large portions of the story will be focused on macro-trends across the country, institutions, and policy, we want to ensure that we don’t forget the pain that has been visited on so many of the people involved in this ongoing phenomenon in American society. It is our hope that by fitting these events into one narrative line, we can bring clarity to some of the most pressing problems facing our country today, and be one of the many excellent voices writing, speaking, and protesting in the name of a better country for everyone.

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