By Rosetta Miller-Perry
The current Tennessee state legislature, with its white GOP racist supermajorities in both houses, continues through its actions and attitudes to demonstrate contempt for Black voters and their elected representatives.
Last week they introduced three resolutions to formally expel Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis.
They claimed these three legislators were leading “an insurrection,” and that they were more interested in getting arrested and making a spectacle than in conducting legislative business.
But the racist legislators in question did nothing more than aid demonstrators in protesting the lack of action taken by this body to address the issue of gun violence.
Indeed, the ease with which a mentally disturbed person legally purchased assault weapons and ultimately killed six people, three of them children, is directly attributable to legislation from racist while Republicans making gun access far easier to kill our children.
The Republican reaction to the demonstrators began an action normally reserved only for people either indicted, accused of a serious crime, or convicted.
Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis violated no criminal laws.
There have been past cases where serious criminal allegations have been made against white male Republicans, yet there have been no expulsion motions made against them.
Former House Speaker Glen Casada kept transacting business despite major allegations swirling around him while allegedly committing fraud, theft and bribery.
Six legislators were ousted in 1866 for opposing constitutional changes to allow my ancestors, former slaves, to become citizens. Two representatives and one state senator have been expelled in the last two centuries, and in each case, there were either serious allegations or a conviction.
Anti-Black and Anti-female legislators are doing this in the absence of any criminal misconduct or behavior by their latest move in contempt of the state’s African American voters. It must be noted here that women make up half of Tennessee’s population.
They have already limited access of all three to legislative privileges, and stripped Johnson and Jones of committee assignments and this was done prior to Thursday’s session, where the formal expulsion proceedings will be held.
Considering the 77-24 prior votes in favor of all three resolutions, expulsion of these three seems little more than a formality. The Democratic Caucus has formally protested the resolutions and they publicly oppose the expulsions.
This is the same white male racist legislature body that treated esteemed Tennessee State University’s President like she was a hired slave rather than a distinguished educator and administrator when she tried to explain her school’s predicament, one in large part caused by years of budgetary misconduct by the state in its fiscal treatment of TSU. The same white racist would never treat the University of Memphis where I am a graduate in the same manner.
This hate filled racism has been repeatedly demonstrated through actions ranging from gerrymandering the redistricting process to passing an absurd bill against critical race theory that is openly hostile, to the advancement tax paying Blacks and Browns in this state.
But this latest action, also effectively nullify the will of 210,000 people who elected these representatives. This takes the dirty white GOP racism and sexism to a new and more dangerous level.
The move represents a naked abuse of power, and an indication of what happens when one party behaves solely for political reasons and racial hate while ignoring precedent, the rule of law, and simple decency and morality. Republicans in the legislature has created a cesspool of systemic racism in Tennessee.