Did Rep. Gloria Johnson say she wasn’t evicted from Tennessee House because she’s white?
When asked why she wasn’t expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives for protesting gun violence while her two black counterparts were expelled for doing the same thing, Rep. Gloria Johnson said, “Well, I think it’s pretty clear. I am a 60 year old white woman and they are two young black men.”
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, a white legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives, argued that her skin color played a role in her escape from this body after her two black colleagues lost their seats in the House for attending the same anti-gun violence protest with her.
At March 30, 2023, Johnson, Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, led anti-gun violence chants on the floor of the home and echoed a group of protesters crammed in the Capitol rotunda. Their protest came days after the deadly shooting at the Nashville Covenant School.
In early April 2023, Republican members of the House of Representatives began proceedings to bar the three legislatures, and so on April 6, 2023they managed to eliminate Pearson and Jones, while Johnson was spared by just one vote. The expulsion of Pearson and Jones, who are black, led to accusations of racism, which the Republican Party lamented deniedand, on the contrary, argued that they wished to avoid setting a precedent in which the legislature could disrupt House procedures by protesting.
In conversation with CNNJohnson was asked, “Why were these two expelled and you weren’t?”
In response, she said, “Well, I think it’s pretty clear. I am a 60 year old white woman and they are two young black men. Listening to the questions and the way they were asked and how they spoke to me… I was mansplained as a woman, but it was totally different from the questioning they were given. And this whole idea that […] you almost have to assimilate into this body to be like us.”
She added that she felt the two black men were being addressed in a “degrading way,” saying, “When you come into that body, you have to act like that body.”
Shortly after the vote, while standing amidst a crowd of journalists in the Capitol, another reporter asked Johnson on why she escaped eviction while Jones and Pearson did not. Johnson replied, “I’ll answer your question — it might have to do with the color of our skin.”
Johnson even retweeted these exchanges on their official account:
Pearson and Jones were both in theirs First Terms in the House while Johnson was in her fourth term. During the exclusion process, lawyers had tried to find Johnson argued for standing by Pearson and Jones to support their protest and not interrupting the proceedings while shouting into a megaphone. Accordingly reportsOn March 30, Jones and Pearson took to the ground to lead gun reform chants with a megaphone, with Johnson later flanking them in support.
After the Nashville shooting thousands Tennesseans marched three times to the Capitol demanding gun control reform. The expulsion of the two black lawmakers has been called “fascist” and “undemocratic” by some protesters.
However, the two expelled MPs may not be gone for long. According to the Associated PressBorough commissions in their counties can select replacements until a special election is held, and they can select Jones and Pearson, both of whom can run again.
Regardless of the reasons Republicans gave for barring the two black lawmakers, Johnson believed it had to do with her race and that her white complexion protected her. We classify this claim as Proper Attribution.