Dear Donald Trump, Stop Talking About Neighborhoods That I Love

Dear Donald Trump,

Let me be clear at the outset that this is not an attempt to argue with you over your political beliefs. I am not trying to convince anyone to vote a certain way.

I simply want to ask one thing of you: Please stop talking about neighborhoods that I love

At last nights debate you made you made several references to Inner cities. The statistics you cited and the picture you painted of these neighborhoods can be summed up by what you said about them in the first debate: “We have a situation in our inner cities, African-Americans, are living in Hell, because it’s so dangerous”

Mr. Trump, for most of my life I have either lived, or worked, or attended church in inner city neighborhoods and currently all three of those describe me. As someone who works, lives, and worships here let me tell you one thing: these neighborhoods are not Hell. Instead, they are places where I find more grace and life than anywhere else.

This is no attempt to gloss over the problems that inner cities face. I can also cite a litany of problems, statistics, and stories to tell you of the challenges that my neighborhood faces.

But please, stop talking about us because this place is not Hell.

In my neighborhood, children walk to church on their own. Knock on my door when they are bored. Walk twenty minutes to come to church events.

That is not Hell

In my neighborhood Gardens and life spring out of demolished houses. Neighbors meet in an effort to solve our problems. Those same neighbors come to my door when they are in trouble.

That is not Hell

In my neighborhood people who haven’t even finished high school can give a testimony to the mighty acts of God that is more powerful than any seminary degree. People know and respect the church because they know that the church, unlike virtually everyone and everything else, did not leave.

That is not Hell.

Please stop talking about my neighborhoods because you are telling a story that many believe: that inner cities are only black and only violent. This story is wrong. There are white inner cities, Latino inner cities, Asian inner cities in addition to African American inner cities. My neighborhood has all sorts all trying to live together.

That diversity is not Hell. It is beautiful.

So please, stop talking about my neighborhoods. Stop talking about places that I love. Please stop talking about them because instead of dealing and wrestling with the real issues you are feeding a narrative, telling a story, that says because my neighborhood does not look like the suburbs that means it is less valuable. I run into this story all the time. Every time someone asks me “aren’t you afraid to live there” or “how’d you end up here?” I encounter this story.

To tell you the truth, I am sick of it. Sick of the impression that my neighborhood is hell. Sick of the idea that it is somehow worth less in God’s eyes because of the way it is. Sick of the idea that statistics on a page that mean God can’t possibly be doing miracles here.

God does work here. God works here in beautiful and wonderful ways.

I pray that one day you can see that.



  1. It was only a matter of time, Pastor Dave, that you would write a blog in defense of our neighborhood. I would love to send this out so all could see what a great neighborhood this is! I will share it but that can’t reach far enough. There must be so many other cities that have neighborhoods that have this bad rap. People need to understand the worth and value of the inner city!

  2. Again, Dave, you hit it home…thanks for your insight and your passion. I look forward to each blog entry…continued blessings on your ministry.

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