Getty/Saul Loeb

Why Donald Trump’s obsession with “inner cities” is so gross.

Even when he’s trying to reach out to undecided minority voters, Trump’s brand of racism is so steeped in stereotypes that he can’t help offending the very group he’s promising to help. Following comments he has made about black Americans living in “war zones” and “disasters,” at the second presidential debate he proclaimed, “I will be a president that turns our inner cities around. ... The African-Americans. The inner cities. Devastating what’s happening to our inner cities.”

It wasn’t a coincidence, as many noted, that the audience member who asked the question was black.

Not only were his dire poverty stats wrong (actually, no city in America has a 45 percent poverty rate among its black residents), but dangerously outdated. His comments relied on the same stereotypes that drove white flight from cities from the 1960s onward, and do not describe the reality of so many black Americans. It’s also worth pointing out that, as a real estate developer, Trump has demonstrated a long history of denying rental housing to black New Yorkers, and thus participated in the racial segregation that created so-called “inner cities” in the first place. Today, the facts are undeniable; the “inner city” is now a boomtown of real estate speculation that has driven out many black Americans.

Trump then pivoted from his grim portrait of the “inner city” to his strangely ambivalent “what do you have to lose” argument to black voters. Considering how little he knows about their lives, the answer is this: everything.