Justin Jones and Justin Pearson are Tennessee State Representatives. Following yet another school shooting in May 2023, at that time in Nashville, Jones and Pearson, with Representative Gloria Johnson, sought action for gun reform while on the floor of the State House. Rep. Johnson, a white woman, was not expelled. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were. Black men who know their power and had the audacity to demand to be heard.
Everything from Justin Jones’ disregard for decorum when he was raising his voice, to Justin Pearson’s afro were scrutinized to make their actions harmful. Jones and Pearson are young Black men who acted on their power. They also did their job: to protect their constituents from harmful societal ills such as gun violence. To the mostly white men in the Tennessee State House Jones and Pearson should be meek and say “yes, sir” with no further action. Both men leaned on Civil Rights leaders who participated in nonviolent protests. They were making good trouble.
This issue of many members of the Republican Party, often white men, seeking to silence and interrogate those who seek justice is not one that stands alone. Whether on social media, blogs, news platforms, or in the State House, “expelling lawmakers is a hallmark of fascism”, as stated by Natalia Santana-Pollard, Feminist Book Club’s Editor in Chief. The aggravation and attempts to silence is not just against “snowflake liberal Democrats.” Those actions extend to people in the Republican Party, particularly women.
Liz Cheney, former Senator from Wyoming, was a member of the January 6th committee tasked with investigating the attack on the Capitol which was an effort to overturn the election of President Biden. Republicans are loyal to each other until further notice. The fact that Ms. Cheney served on the committee exemplified her loyalty to the truth and not to her party. That, in turn, in led to her failed reelection bid in 2022. She did not kiss the metaphorical ring of protecting That Tiny-Handed Man. Even the daughter of a revered, yet mightily corrupt Republican, Dick Cheney, is not protected.
Cindy McCain similarly was lambasted for accepting an Ambassador appointment by President Biden. Accepting the coveted role signified building the wrought bridge between the Democratic and Republican Party. There is no playing in the sandbox together from Republicans, although mostly acting like immature ingrates is their forte.
Zooey Zephyr, a Democratic Montana State Representative, raised her voice in the ire of a judge denying gender-affirming care in the state. This was also the state that banned TikTok. Prohibiting people from sharing information and dancing on an app was a far more important priority. Zephyr was newly elected to the house. All of the efforts to keep her voice quiet only resulted in making her a powerhouse.
Protests are also a global effort. Turkey and Greece have protests for better rights for their respective homelands. French people were protesting the raise in the retirement age and a police officer shooting a 17-year-old of North African descent. They were in the streets, burning cars and making noise. Iranian protests also continue for the murder of Mahsa Amini. Atrocities are not central to America and affirm that protests are vital.
Everyone in their power has the right to advocate for a more just and equitable society. Pivotal actions may no longer be top of the hour news but that does not mean the issue has ended. The Republican Party is not going quiet. AI is predicted to be an incredible purveyor of misinformation in the 2024 Presidential elections. Staying woke to the issues is pivotal. Protests, whether in your community or for an issue abroad, inevitably brings awareness and legislation to support ending the issue. Never be silenced.