A state delegate apologized Tuesday for using the n-word to describe a district in Prince George’s County, and announced she will step down from a subcommittee leadership position.
A lawmaker said he heard Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford) refer to an area of Prince George’s County as a “n—– district” when talking to a colleague in late January about campaigning there. She was attending an after-hours meeting with other General Assembly members at an Annapolis cigar bar, according to The Washington Post.
Lisanti issued a statement apologizing to the “people of Maryland,” as well as her colleagues in the General Assembly.
“I am sickened that a word that is not in my vocabulary came out of my mouth,” she wrote. “I understand that the use of inappropriate and insensitive language is not acceptable under any circumstance.”
The Post reported that Lisanti told other lawmakers that she did not remember saying it.
The slur comes after a storm of scandals involving blackface in Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam came under fire after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook showing a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. State attorney general Mark Herring later admitted to using blackface when he was younger.
Lisanti, a 51-year-old white woman, first won election representing Harford County in 2014, after serving in the county council for eight years.
House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel) announced in a statement Tuesday that Lisanti will step down from leading the unemployment insurance subcommittee of the House Economic Matters Committee because “leaders in the House need to be able to bring people together [—] not tear them apart.”
“While I believe her apology was heartfelt, the damage among her colleagues and the public has been done,” he wrote.
Lisanti said the comment does not represent who she is or her “heart,” but did not give an explanation for it.
District 34A, the area in Harford County that Lisanti represents, is about 61 percent white and 29 percent black, according to American Community Survey data from 2010-14. District 26 — the area in Prince George’s County that Lisanti referred to — is about 12 percent white and 77 percent black.
Lisanti said she met with leaders of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and apologized, but in a video recorded by The Washington Post, Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), who chairs the caucus, expressed doubt about her apology.
“When she came before the executive order of the black caucus, we felt her apology was not sincere,” he said.
Lisanti said in her statement that she also apologized to the entire Democratic caucus.
But Barnes thinks it didn’t go far enough. He recommended that she undergo sensitivity training and said that some have called for her resignation.
Lisanti said in her statement that she hopes for a second chance.
“I pray for forgiveness,” the statement said.