Home » Tennessee lawmaker says ‘white supremacist’ colleague called him out for wearing a dashiki

Tennessee lawmaker says ‘white supremacist’ colleague called him out for wearing a dashiki

by The Grio

A Tennessee lawmaker is calling a fellow legislator a “white supremacist” after saying he was criticized for wearing a dashiki in the Tennessee House.

State Rep. Justin J. Pearson is stirring up controversy and raising questions about what constitutes appropriate professional attire following the Democrat’s Thursday outfit choice, according to Action News 5.

Pearson was elected last month in a special election to succeed the late Rep. Barbara Cooper, the station reported, and on his first day of work, he decided to wear a dashiki, a popular shirt among African Americans with roots in West Africa.

“Wearing this dashiki on the first day and being sworn in,” Pearson said, “wearing it is paying homage to the ancestors who made this opportunity possible.”

Republican state Rep. David Hawk of Greene County spoke during the Tennessee House’s opening remarks on Thursday. While he avoided mentioning Pearson by name, he shared a story about late state legislator Lois DeBerry.

DeBerry, a Democrat from Memphis elected to serve in the state House in 1972, was the first woman and African American to become speaker pro tempore. Hawk claimed that Deberry once chastised him for failing to wear a coat and tie to the General Assembly, adding that her memory is honored by “how we look and how we treat each other and how we give the respect we hope to get back.” It’s been more than 10 years since DeBerry, who died in 2013, served as a state lawmaker.

Pearson and other Democrats said they believe Hawk was wrong to criticize him on the House floor, and Pearson said updated decorum standards are necessary.

The legislator posted a photo of himself in a dashiki and raising his fist on social media on Thursday.

“A white supremacist has attacked my wearing of my dashiki,” he wrote, in part, on Twitter. “Resistance and subversion to the status quo ought to make some people…

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