The bad news is Democrats continue to divide America along racial lines for cheap political points and publicity stunts. On the plus side, they sometimes create unintentional hilarity with their obliviousness to reality while doing so.
Take the case of Tennessee Democratic State Representative Justin J. Pearson. Last Thursday, he decided to mark his first day on the job by defying the male dress code (coat and tie) on the Tennessee House floor.
Pearson wore a dashiki, an attire which originated in West Africa and is popular in the black community. He claimed he did it to pay “homage to the ancestors who made this opportunity possible.”
When a Republican correctly pointed out he was out of order, Pearson took to Twitter afterwards to blast him as a “white supremacist.”
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! pic.twitter.com/HGNtMmH5OY
— Justin J. Pearson (@Justinjpearson) February 9, 2023
Unbeknownst to Pearson, however, the person responsible for the male dress code was the late Lois DeBerry, a prominent female Democrat from Memphis. She was the first woman and African American to become Speaker Pro Tempore.
Today, we celebrated Rep. Lois DeBerry on what would of been her 77th birthday. Rep. DeBerry is one of 12 people featured on the Memphis Suffrage Monument “Equality Trailblazers” that was sculpted by @AlanLeQuire. #TrailBlazer #WomensRights #VotingRights pic.twitter.com/H71lDFmpvs
— TNSuffrageTrail (@TNSuffrageTrail) May 6, 2022
Talk about a self-own.
Action News 5 reported:
Newly elected Democratic State Representative Justin J. Pearson was called out by his fellow lawmakers Thursday for his apparel in the Tennessee House.
He chose to wear a dashiki on the house floor, and it’s now sparking a debate about what is considered professional attire.
A dashiki, originating in West Africa, is popular attire in the African American community, and he wanted to wear it on his first day on the job.
Republican representative David Hawk of Greene County got up on the House floor to speak, and while he did not call Pearson out by name, he told a story about the late Lois DeBerry.
DeBerry was a well-respected longtime member of the State House from Memphis, a Democrat, and the first woman and African American to ascend to Speaker Pro Tempore. Hawk recalled years ago being reprimanded by DeBerry for not wearing a coat and tie in the assembly.
“We honor Lois DeBerry’s memory by how we look and how we treat each other and how we give the respect we hope to get back. I still, to this day, keep an extra tie in my drawer,” said Hawk.
Pearson immediately took to social media Thursday posting a picture of him in his dashiki with a fist in the air. He said in part, “a white supremacist has attacked my wearing of my dashiki. Resistance and subversion to the status quo ought to make some people uncomfortable.”
Tennessee House Republicans fired back saying on Twitter that House decorum rules were unanimously approved and added, in part, “If you don’t like the rules, perhaps you should explore a different career opportunity that’s main purpose is not creating them.”
Speaker Sexton sent Action News 5 this statement:
“The House clerk has sent Rep. Pearson the information he requested earlier today. During her historic tenure in the General Assembly, the late Lois DeBerry established a precedent for attire that remains in place today; men must wear a coat and a tie if they wish to be recognized in committee or on the House floor. Ms. DeBerry would frequently address members violating this precedent and remind them of the requirement. The speaker will continue to follow the precedent and the path established by Ms. DeBerry to honor her and her incredible legacy within our legislative body.”