This Muslim Mom of Four Voted Green in 2016. Not This Time. Here’s Why.

Keziah Ridgeway, a Black Muslim mother of four and a high school history teacher, said Donald Trump is one of "the most openly white supremacist presidents that we've had in modern history." (Keystone Photo/Samaria Bailey)

By Samaria Bailey

October 23, 2020

“I personally am not in love with Biden. However, unlike the last election, where my morals dictated my vote, I am going to vote Democratic this go ‘round,” she said.

PHILADELPHIA — Keziah Ridgeway is not too fond of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

But, she said, the other option goes against everything she is and believes.

The 35-year-old Philadelphia woman is a Black Muslim, high school history teacher, and mother of four. Because city schools are closed, Ridgeway has been teaching classes online while simultaneously teaching her own children at home.

“Four years ago, my kids woke up the next morning after [President Donald] Trump had been elected by the electoral college, not the popular vote, and my son asked me, ‘When are the FBI going to round us up and come and get us?’ That sort of anxiety…this is from them talking to classmates, talking to teachers and seeing things on the news—that this person is not a nice person and doesn’t like them. As a mother, having to have that conversation was really hard to do and I’m just praying this conversation doesn’t need to happen again,” Ridgeway said.

“I personally am not in love with Biden. However, unlike the last election, where my morals dictated my vote, I am going to vote Democratic this go ‘round,” she said.

Ridgeway did not like Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, so she voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“This president has made it clear from the very beginning that he has a strong disdain for Muslim people. A few months into his presidency he was [instituting] the Muslim ban and Muslim registry,” she said. 

Ridgeway said she didn’t like what the Biden campaign had to say about Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour after the Democratic National Convention.

“Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her (Sarsour’s) views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, referring to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

“She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

The Biden campaign later apologized privately to Muslim leaders, but then told The Jewish Chronicle that the campaign continues “to reject the views that Linda Sarsour has expressed.”

“In our current society, in many ways, it’s unacceptable for Palestinian people to be who who they are and to talk about what they are going through,” Ridgeway said. “The establishment Democratic party doesn’t support it and so as a Muslim, a lot of times, I don’t feel respected or I don’t feel seen on either side.”

But Ridgeway doesn’t believe Biden would institute anything like a Muslim ban.

Ridgeway, who is adamant about teaching the facts of an otherwise whitewashed American history, was also deeply disturbed by Trump’s recent proclamation on Columbus Day. Trump called Christopher Columbus a “legendary figure,” and said “radical activists” and “extremists” were trying to “undermine” the explorer’s legacy by talking about the way he enslaved and abused the native people of the West Indies.

“People like me, who teach the true history about Columbus, he called us radicals and extremists—that is so problematic on so many levels,” Ridgeway said.

“I think about the McCarthy era and the fact that everyday people [had] their lives ruined just by being labeled a Communist because they were teaching the truth or critical of the government.”

Ridgeway said there are people who love Trump who are “listening to this very coded dog-whistle racism and they’re on standby, very much like the gangs that were roaming here in Philadelphia, talking about they were trying to protect businesses, but really they were just looking for a reason to crack somebody’s skull who looked different from them. They’re taking their cues from the President of the United States…one of the most openly white supremacist presidents that we’ve had in modern history, and that’s problematic.

“It affects the health of the nation, it affects the educational institutions of the nation. Literally, we’re taking so many steps back as a result of the things this person is doing.”


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