A Maryland lawmaker has apologized for using the n-word to refer to her constituents.
Maryland House of Delegates member Mary Ann Lisanti, a Democrat, used the racial slur when discussing door-knocking in Prince George’s County, a black-majority county, and called it a “n----- district,” according to the Washington Post.
In a letter Tuesday, Lisanti apologized for using “an insensitive and hurtful word,” adding that she has personally apologized to many of her colleagues in the House.
“I am sickened that word came out of my mouth,” Lisanti wrote. “It is not in my vocabulary, and it does not represent my belief system, my life’s work or what’s in my heart.”
The remark reportedly occurred at a cigar bar in late January, where several lawmakers were gathering, and was said to one of her white colleagues.
Earlier this month, Lisanti told the Post she did not remember using the word, saying, “I don’t recall that...I don’t recall much of that evening.” But when asked whether she’d ever used the n-word, Lisanti said, “I’m sure I have.”
“I’m sure everyone has used it,” she told the Post. “I’ve used the f-word. I used the Lord’s name in vain.”
Lisanti did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Delegate Darryl Barnes, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said Lisanti “apologized several times” when confronted.
“She recognizes how she has hurt so many within the caucus, and she hoped to repent from this,” Barnes said. “She said that she doesn’t remember fully what happened, but she recognizes what happened.”
Lisanti has been removed as the chair of the Unemployment Insurance Subcommittee and will undergo sensitivity training, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said in a statement.
“Like anyone who has made a mistake, she has the opportunity for redemption — but it is her responsibility to do so and earn back the trust of her colleagues,” Busch said.
The Legislative Black Caucus is now calling for Lisanti to resign, saying in a letter Wednesday that it is “clear” that she is “unsuited to continue” in her role.
“The use of a racially-charged term is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Barnes wrote in the letter. “Your lack of judgement and condescending language to describe a predominately African-American district and particularly an area in which I proudly represent, reflects on your incapacity to serve in the State of Maryland.”
In a letter from the caucus Monday, the day before Lisanti publicly apologized, Barnes said her personal apology was “woefully inadequate.”
“The month of February marks the commemoration of Black History Month,” Barnes said. “Astoundingly, racial transgressions have been a staggering theme in a month which celebrates the rich history, culture, and progressions of African-Americans. The blatant act of racism by Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti has blanketed a time where we should be recognizing achievements in the African-American community.”
The Legislative Latino Caucus stood by the Black Caucus, issuing a statement Thursday condemning her “use of the ‘n-word’ to describe a predominantly black district.” It also called for Lisanti to resign.
“Her offer of an apology to the Black Caucus unequivocally fell short, and so, it is our belief that actions should be louder than words,” Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, chair of the caucus, wrote.