Love transcends political divide in this Philadelphia family
By Jen Osborne
Nov. 3, 2020
Philadelphia, USA. Nasya Jenkins stands inside City Hall in Philadelphia in August, 2020. Photo courtesy Nasya Jenkins.
Nasya Jenkins and Daphne Goggins are family, but their politics reveal the divide between Democrats and Republicans in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
In a close race, Pennsylvania swung toward President Donald Trump in 2016, a surprise in a state that had voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 1992. Lower than expected Black voter turnout in Philadelphia contributed to Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton’s loss.
This year, Jenkins, a 23-year-old Philadelphia resident, cast a reluctant early ballot for Joe Biden – not because she believes the former vice president is the best person for the job, but because she wants Trump out.
“I voted Democrat, unfortunately,” she says.
“Talking about politics is kind of like the boogeyman, but if you vote third party you’re throwing your vote away.”
Jenkins, who works with people who have mental disabilities, supported Greens in the 2016 election because she believes Americans must take climate change seriously.
Jenkins’s aunt, Daphne Goggins, is a lifelong Republican from North Philadelphia with a different view. Goggins, 57, is a member of Blexit (Black Exit) Philadelphia, a movement that aims to convert left-leaning Black voters to right-wing politics.
“I don’t understand the hate for Trump,” Goggins says. “It’s really whipped up hate. Obama didn’t serve Black people or anyone.”
Goggins has been a registered Republican since the age of 18, putting her among a minority of Black Americans who support the party. According to the Pew Research Centre, 87 per cent of Black American voters identify with the Democrats, compared with just 7 per cent who identify as Republican.
Goggins has been criticized for her views. When Blexit appeared at a Black Lives Matter rally in Washington two weeks ago, Goggins says, there was tension. “I was like, why is a white woman talking to Black women, calling us Nazis?”
Goggins believes that Trump will restore law and order and improve the U.S. economy, which will improve Black prosperity.
Nasya Jenkins sits at home and looks out her window on Election Day. Photo credit: Jen Osborne.
Jenkins says her aunt’s “blind support for Trump is not something I favour.”
“People who vote for Trump and expect something different confuse me,” she says. “America was already divided, but Trump put it on the forefront.”
Jenkins points to the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man in Philadelphia, who was shot multiple times by police last week. “People are doing things to express they’re angry,” she says.
Policing, the government response to COVID-19, voter suppression, climate change and unemployment rates are topics of concern for Jenkins.
“I want my vote to count toward something,” she says.
Voters’ concerns in the sprawling conservative countryside of the Keystone State are different due to a population of coal miners, farmers, oil field workers and the Amish. Keeping fracking and coal mining jobs alive is a bigger concern for some than stopping systemic racism in policing.
“If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have a Black Lives Matter in the first place,” Jenkins says.
Goggins has a different view on policing. “We back the blue,” she says, because “minorities need the police more than anyone in this country.”
Political division in this family is real but Goggins and Jenkins have found a way to accept each other.
“Everybody knows I am voting for Trump,” Goggins says. “I think it’s sad that some of my family members cop to the Democratic madness.” But “Nasya and I, we’re cool,” she says.
“I practise the principles that God made out in the bible: Love, tolerance, patience, but most of all, love,” she says, regarding her niece’s views.
“A lot of my family is old school,” Jenkins says. “My aunt still has this really weird optimistic outlook on Trump. I don’t see what she sees and it’s strange because we’re the same race.”
“People are not their politics,” Jenkins says. “I love my aunt. She’s helped her community beyond reason.” But “voting is not a game,” she says. “I have to do what’s best for the future.”