Rhode Island Lawmaker Decries ‘Oppressive’ Dress Code for ‘White People’

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Rhode Island’s Senate is a “white western space,” according to a Democratic state lawmaker.

Sen. Jonathan Acosta, D-District 16, opposed the state’s Senate “oppressive” attire guidelines passed Tuesday, Fox News reports.


Acosta argued it was “super inappropriate” for the white, male Senate president to “bestow a normative judgment” on the chamber’s dress code.

When senators defended the rule, Acosta claimed: “Folks use expressions like professional … presentable, appropriate … what they mean is white-collar, White western dress.”

The section under debate reads: “The president of the senate shall preserve decorum and order in the senate chamber. While in the senate chamber, members and staff shall be required to dress in proper and appropriate attire, such as blouses, dress slacks and collared shirts with accompanying jacket.”

Acosta argued: “If that is what is necessary to be in this space…that connotes white-collar, white people.”

As an educator, Acosta said he wore a shirt and tie every day but explained, “what I was doing was reaffirming to all the Black and Brown poor kids that I was teaching, that in order to be successful, you had to try to look and approximate whiteness as much as possible — and that is the message that you would be forcing down the throat of all the residents of Rhode Island.”

Acosta supports Critical Race Theory and wrote on Twitter: “White ppl blind to whiteness is as American as apple pie, a false sense of universalism & exceptionalism.”

Sen. Cynthia Mendes, an East Providence Democrat, did support Acosta.

“This is colonization language. The need to remind everyone who is in power. It has always started with what you tell them to do with their bodies,” Mendes said. “That’s not lost on me.”

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