Maryland State Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti should resign immediately. No more empty apologies; no more foolish explanations, no more lies.
Racist insults targeting African-Americans certainly should not be tolerated by elected officials. The Maryland House of Delegates voted 136-0 last week to censure Lisanti after she admitted to using the reprehensible N-word at a bar with her colleagues.
According to The Washington Post, Lisanti told another white legislator that when he had campaigned for a candidate in predominantly Black Prince George’s County, he was canvassing a “nigger district.”
“I’m sure I have [used the slur],” Lisanti told The Washington Post. “I’m sure everyone has used it.”
Not everyone. And it’s Lisanti’s acknowledged comfort level with the N-word that makes me wonder if it’s part of her permanent vocabulary. And she has apparently hidden her hateful side from many of her colleagues during her two terms in the Maryland State Legislature.
Civil rights leaders, the NAACP, Maryland lawmakers and civic organizations – Black and white – quickly called on Lisanti to resign, but Lisanti is digging in and says she won’t quit.
“Anyone who’s that ignorant should resign or be fired,” Angela Alsobrooks, the newly elected Prince Georges County Executive, told reporters last week. Alsobrooks’ jurisdiction includes the district Lisanti referred to in her bigoted remarks. Alsobrooks called Lisnati’s comments “dinosaur views.”
Meanwhile, Linsati has been noticeably absent from the State Capitol: She hasn’t shown up for work in four days. She’s missed meetings and she’s neglecting her constituents. Lisanti apologized for her bigoted comments; she stepped down from her House leadership position and she promised to take a sensitivity training class.
Sensitivity training? I don’t know how a class can remedy Lisanti’s entrenched disregard for Black people. And I’m definitely not convinced that a class can change Lisanti’s racist behavior.
“To those who have called for my resignation, I say quitting is easy, but not the road to redemption,” Lisanti, a Democrat, said at a news conference. “Quitting this body would, in fact, be an easy way out.”
Lisanti’s district is near Baltimore and makes up 64 percent of Harford County’s African-American population. She wants her Black constituents to believe that her continued service is actually in their best interest.
That’s takes audacity.
Maryland Del. Darryl Barnes, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, isn’t buying it and said his membership still wants Lisanti to resign.
“My hope is that with the censure, she will look herself in the mirror and realize she must resign,” said Barnes, a Prince George’s County Democrat. “She cannot be effective at all. She has no responsibilities and no committee and folks are continuing to call for her resignation.”
“To me, she is saying the delegates who were in the room are all liars, and that is unacceptable,” Barnes said. “She was not remorseful, and she had such a cavalier attitude.”
And consider this: Lisanti didn’t just utter the N-word in a heated argument meant for one person – that would be bad enough. She targeted an entire county of African-American citizens which suggests that she has a deep-seeded racial bias against Black people.
“Many of you may have heard or seen media reports concerning a statement that I made several weeks ago where I used an insensitive and hurtful word I will not repeat it here, but I am ashamed of what I said and want to address it with you, my friends and supporters, directly – and ask for your forgiveness,” Lisanti said. “…I met with House Speaker Busch and agreed to step down from my leadership position and participate in sensitivity training.”
Did Lisanti apologize because she sincerely regrets her racist comments – or because she is desperate to survive her self-inflicted crisis? Lisanti’s remarks were first revealed by Maryland Delegate Jay Walker, the legislator who represents the district in Prince George’s County that Lisani referenced in her racist comment. Walker’s district is about 63 percent African-American.
At a cigar bar in January, in Annapolis, several legislators heard Lisanti use the racial slur while drinking with a group of Black and white colleagues. Initially, Lisanti lied: She told Black colleagues she did not recall making the racial slur. She refused to take responsibility for her racist remarks, and, only when faced with censure and calls for her resignation did she apologize.
But if Lisanti makes such appalling racist remarks in public, what is she saying about Black people behind closed doors?
Lisanti isn’t fit to serve. She should resign from the Maryland House of Delegates, relinquish her $55,000-a-year salary, hand over her state-sanctioned license plates and walk out of the State Capitol in Annapolis as a private citizen.
Then let’s see how those sensitivity training sessions are working out.
What do you think?
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