Losing faith in our democracy as we lose rights

Tennessee Representives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were removed from office for protesting gun violence on the house floor. Their colleague, Gloria Johnson, was not and some claim racism is the reason.

To be honest, it’s been hard to keep up with the news lately. As a journalist and an editor of the paper, I have to. But I haven’t wanted to. 

First, a school shooting in Nashville in which six people were killed – including three children. 

Then, following that, Tennessee representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from the House of Representatives for speaking out and leading chants calling to end gun violence. 

Their fellow representative, Gloria Johnson, who also joined the protests, was not expelled after a narrow vote. 

It’s worth being said that both Jones and Pearson are Black, whereas Johnson is a white woman. 

It can be denied by House Speaker Cameron Sexton that race played no part in the decision, but it’s hard to believe.

Of course, Jones and Pearson used a megaphone, and Johnson did not. 

Obviously, a megaphone is a means for removal from the House of Representatives. 

It’s easy for Sexton and others who agree with him to claim that race played no part in the decision, but it’s even easier to see how flawed that point of view is. 

Whether it was conscious or not, three representatives participated in a protest, and only the white woman avoided expulsion. Johnson herself has stated that she believes race was a factor.

The House of Representatives voted to expel two young, Black men because they stood by their beliefs and supported a non-violent protest – one that goes against the Republican-majority House. 

Jones and Pearson have since regained their seats, but the troubling fact of the matter is that this was allowed to happen in the first place.

And if you need more evidence that the House of Representatives is not an inclusive place, just look at the backlash Pearson received after wearing a dashiki instead of a suit and tie for his swearing-in. 

It’s hard to believe in democracy or have faith in our government as a young person today. 

And this only makes it more difficult, especially when this comes at the same time as more mass shootings, like the one in Louisville just last week that killed five and injured eight. 

At the same time as the concerning amount of anti-trans legislation being introduced across the country. 

At the same time as federal judges are setting their sights on limiting access to abortion pills when the physical procedure has been banned in half the country. 

How are we supposed to have faith in democracy and our government when our rights are being stripped away instead of protected? 

And how am I expected to focus on studying, focus on my upcoming graduation, focus on anything else, when it seems like the country is falling apart around us? 

– Lily Doton

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