PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Md. Lawmakers Call for White Delegate’s Resignation After Racial Slur

ANNAPOLIS — One day after Del. Mary Ann Lisanti admitted using the N-word last month, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland said Wednesday she should resign.

Del. Darryl Barnes (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro, who chairs the caucus, announced a letter will be sent to House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. to formally call for Lisanti’s resignation.

“Not only is this word offensive, but there are so many other things that we need to be upset about,” Barnes told reporters inside the House of Delegates building. “The words that came out of Delegate Lisanti’s mouth is a reflection of who she is, not who we are.”

Mary Ann Lisanti
Mary Ann Lisanti (Courtesy of Maryland General Assembly)

The Washington Post first reported Monday that Lisanti, a two-term delegate from Harford County who sits on the influential House Economic Matters Committee, sat with a few colleagues last month at a cigar bar in Annapolis and used the N-word to describe residents in southern Prince George’s County.

Lisanti, a 51-year-old Democrat, released a statement Tuesday apologizing for her remarks. She will step down from her leadership position as chair of the Unemployment Insurance subcommittee and adhere to sensitivity training.

“I am sickened that word came out of my mouth,” she said in the statement. “It is not in my vocabulary, and it does not represent my belief system, my life’s work or what’s in my heart.”

After the House adjourned Wednesday, she declined to comment and walked by reporters on the House floor.

Meanwhile, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks responded to Lisanti’s comments Wednesday before testifying in the Senate regarding funds for school construction.

Alsobrooks said she spoke to her father, born in the South, and mentioned a specific sentence: “Don’t fight people about the wisdom of feeding dinosaurs.”

“Delegate Lisanti in so many ways is a dinosaur in terms of her thoughts and views, unenlightened and ignorant,” she said while standing alongside Barnes and Del. Michael Jackson, who chairs the county delegation. “Anyone who’s that ignorant should resign or should be fired. Her opinions don’t mean anything. A woman who represents people a hundred miles away from Prince George’s County. We know who we are in Prince George’s.”

Minutes before Alsobrooks spoke, several groups released statements calling for Lisanti to step down.

“Her comment referring to Prince George’s County as a ‘n—-r district’ is beneath the office of delegate and we agree with the Legislative Black Caucus that her apology was inadequate,” said Dirk Haire, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Dana Vickers Shelley, executive director of the ACLU of Maryland, criticized Lisant for using the slur at a public venue without regard for Black residents in her own district in Harford County.

“All of Del. Lisanti’s constituents deserve to have an elected leader who respects them and takes seriously their needs when making policy decisions that directly impact their lives,” Shelley said. “Del. Lisanti, you must step down.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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