TN House Republicans 'uncomfortable' with Dem. member wearing dashiki suggest he 'explore' new 'career'

TN House Republicans 'uncomfortable' with Dem. member wearing dashiki suggest he 'explore' new 'career'

Tennessee GOP House members suggested newly-elected Democratic House member Justin Pearson "explore a different career" after his choice to wear a Dashiki, which symbolizes Black pride, during his first day on the job, WPLN reports.

According to WPLN, there are no "written rules" concerning a dress code, although the House Clerk’s office asserts "it’s been a longstanding practice for men to wear a suit and tie, and women to wear formal business attire."

However, the 113th General Assembly Permanent Rules of Order confirmed the "decorum or attire is left up to the House Speaker."

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Pearson told Action 5 News, “I’ve been wearing suits since I was eight years old. It’s not a problem with wearing suits, there is a problem with upholding systems that tell people what is wrong and what is right based on what is considered normal and, in this status quo, what is normal is what is white."

State GOP Rep. David Hawk was "uncomfortable" with Pearson's attire, recalling a "time he wasn't allowed on the floor by former Tennessee House Speaker Lois DeBerry."

"I showed up one Monday night on two wheels trying to get in here, and I did not have a tie on," Hawk said. "And she reminded me that ‘Rep. Hawk, if you don’t have a tie on, you don’t get to walk in that door.'"

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“What’s happening here is you have discriminatory practices and policies to help homogenize this community to look like a cis white older man — which is westernized European culture, which is in and of itself its own expression,” Pearson said. “We have to realize there are other expressions too, and to say there’s only one that need to be seen here is really saying there’s only one type of person that needs to be here."

Pearson tweeted a selfie wearing his dashiki saying, "We literally just got on the State House floor and already a white supremacist has attacked my wearing of my Dashiki. Resistance and subversion to the status quo ought to make some people uncomfortable. Thank you to every Black Ancestor who made this opportunity possible!"

State House Republicans retweeted the post and suggested Pearson "should explore a different career."

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"Referencing the bipartisan and unanimously approved rules for House decorum and dress attire is far from a racist attack," the TN House Republicans account tweeted. "If you don’t like rules, perhaps you should explore a different career opportunity that’s main purpose is not creating them."

“This dress is resistance. This afro is resistance. What we are doing here is subversive to the status quo, and I think that’s going to continue to make people uncomfortable,” Pearson said.

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