June 7, 2023
REAL TALK From AJ Woodson

The Expulsion Of Two Black Lawmakers Is The Latest Example Of Hate, Racism And A Severe Moral Crisis In Our State & National Governments

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After the coverage of the two Black lawmakers being expelled by the Tennessee State House for participating in an anti-gun protest and the white women who also was part of what they called The Tennessee Three not being voted out is the latest example of the hate and racism that is and has always plagued this country. But this is much bigger than gun rights. As I’ve warned for the past few years there is movement to strip all of us of OUR rights. It’s about the hate for Black people, persons of colors, women and everyone else who is not a white man.

No matter where you stand on gun rights, all of OUR rights are under attack, Our right to vote, women’s rights to choose, the rights of the LGBTQ community, it’s an attack against all of us. Make America Great Again is about taking us back to a time in this country when none of us had any rights.

The expulsion of two Black lawmakers in the Tennessee State House, is about putting US back in OUR place. How dare these Black elected officials speak up to support a youth-led peaceful protest for gun control, one week after three nine-year-olds and three adults were killed in a mass shooting at the Covenant School (a private Christian school) in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, March 27th. The expulsion of two Black lawmakers, Reps. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, on a 72-25 vote, and Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, 69-26 – the two youngest Tennessee lawmakers and former community organizers – and refusing to also kick Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, (a white woman) out of the chamber is outrageous, unfounded and overtly racist.

Rep Johnson was stripped or her committee assignments April 3 in retaliation for her peaceful participation in last week’s demonstration for gun reform, but still remains in the chamber. While she had to pay for her audacity for joining protesters, she received a smack on the wrist in contrast to the punishing and attempted silencing Reps. Jones and Pearson.

An effort to expel Democratic Representative Gloria Johnson, who is white, failed by one vote. While Johnson was not holding a bullhorn on the House floor like Jones, there appears to be little or no other difference between the trio of Democrats and their alleged breach of protocol. Johnson told reporters that her being spared while her Black colleagues were not “may have to do with the color of our skin.” She was not alone in accusing Republicans of singling out Jones and Pearson based on race.

“What a blatant attack on democracy in Tennessee today,” tweeted Bernice King, daughter of the late civil-rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. “The vote to expel @brotherjones_ is political retaliation and a reflection of a severe moral crisis in our state and national governments.”

This “reflection of a severe moral crisis in our state and national governments,” is just the latest example of the hate we deal with daily, being Black in America. This is nothing new. But when are Black people going to stand up! Where are the Christians on Easter weekend speaking up against this. It’s hypocritical to stand for the life of an unborn child, and not caring about the senseless slaughter of nine-year-olds. Then to add insult to injury, members of the GOP led Tennessee State House compared the peaceful protest to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Reps. Jones, Pearson and Johnson were accused of breaking decorum. With Jones and Pearson expelled for daring to have the audacity to speak loud and bold, leaving tens of thousands of mostly Black and Brown Tennessee residents without representation. This is an assault on all of OUR rights.

Justin Jones, 27, said he had “no regrets, and would continue to speak up for Tennesseans who are demanding change,” in an interview with CNN on Friday,

“What happened yesterday was an attack on OUR democracy and overt racism. The nation got to see clearly what’s going on in Tennessee, that we don’t have democracy especially when it comes to Black and Brown communities. This is what we have been challenging all session, a very toxic, racist work environment.”

Jones said Republican lawmakers were trying to take Tennessee backwards, and pointed to the state’s history of white supremacy, the birthplace of the ultra-violent Ku Klux Klan. The actions and expulsion of these two African American lawmakers should be a call to action for us ALL. It would be foolish to think that it cannot happen here. This is the continuation of suppressing of Strong Black Male leadership in the communities that elected them to serve.

These legislators should be applauded for being Strong Black Men, unapologetically speaking truth to power. The actions and expulsion of Reps. Jones and Pearson should be a call to action nationwide. I repeat this is bigger than gun control, this is about the fight for our rights, oppression, racism and hatred of Black people.

The expulsion of Reps. Jones and Pearson was meant to be a warning to other Blacks in Tennessee about speaking up. But instead of silencing these two Black men, they are now national figures who we may never have known by name but for these tactics to silence them. They are going to keep speaking, and so are the next generations of young people. It’s time for us ALL to the join the fight to keep the rights many of us take for granted.

In closing I leave you with the words from Malcolm X’s 1964 speech, “The Ballot or The Bullet,” delivered on April 3, 1964, at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

Why is America – why does this loom to be such an explosive political year? Because this is the year of politics. This is the year when all of the white politicians are going to come into the Negro community. You never see them until election time. You can’t find them until election time. [applause] They’re going to come in with false promises. And as they make these false promises they’re going to feed our frustrations, and this will only serve to make matters worse. I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American – and got sense enough to know it.

I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats. One of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. [applause] And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy – all we’ve seen is hypocrisy.

When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from America’s democracy. We’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it. And are not afraid to say it.

59 years later, Brother Malcolm’s words still ring true today. It’s time for All of us to speak up unapologetically and stop being afraid to stand up and say what need to be said!

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