By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – February 28, 2019) – Before I get to the matter at hand, let me first state how proud I am of the Black Press in Maryland. While we certainly have our African American-owned outlets, we cannot and must not forget those of us who are also employed by mainstream outlets, for they are of the utmost significance, too. I am reminded of the marching orders implored upon us by the likes of former Coppin State Professor Ronn Nichols who charged his mass media students with helping to maintain a more accurate and lucid image of blacks in media. Nichols told us we had an innate responsibility to help provide the necessary balance so as to help empower the community.
On that note, this has been a very remarkable week in Annapolis politics. One never knows when they will be thrust into the forefront to take a stand. As the “good book” notes, we must be ever ready.
This week, I am proud to report that people of various ethnicities let it be known that racial prejudice will not be tolerated.
I asked several Marylanders their thought on Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti’s “nigger district” comment. Here’s what they replied.
“Appalling and unacceptable,” said practicing physician and former Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D.
“While disgusting, it should not result in her resignation,” said former Delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis. He added, “She has done public penance and having her around is an asset and reminder of the unyielding racism in our society. It brings visible public shame to them.”
Meredith Moise, a well-noted Maryland activist, said, “Racism and ignorance are not just reserved for the GOP.” She continued, “Racism is present among Democrats as well. She should be censured and officially reprimanded. Also, this disgraceful incident is an opportunity for Prince George’s and Baltimore City to form a solid alliance to advocate for the most marginalized in our state as that remark could have been made about Baltimore City as it is a majority Black jurisdiction. The delegate’s remarks show that regardless of income or class, some will still see Black people as nxggxrs.”
J.D. Merrill, former candidate for state Senate, said, “There is no room in our public or private discourse for such language or expressions of racism.” Additionally, he stated, “She should resign and allow the Democratic Party to maintain its integrity as the part for the people.”
State Senator Cory McCray stated, “Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti must resign immediately.” He said, “Racist language has no place in our society and it certainly has no place in the Maryland General Assembly. At minimum, members of the public deserve to have confidence that ther leaders are dedicated to serving individuals of all backgrounds and demographics. Delegate Lisanti’s choice of language has completely eroded that confidence. While I am a firm believer in second chances, it is clear that Delegate Lisanti is no longer able to effective serve her constituents in the aftermath of these comments. I am calling on her to do the right thing and step down from her position in the Maryland House of Delegates.”
Thus far, a message has been sent loud and clear to Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (Harford-D) and all others that despite being negated far too many times, the African American community is as strong as ever. We are a bit of a sleeping giant whom, when awakened, will unequivocally make our presence felt, and even more, respected.
Lisanti’s comment alluding to Gorgeous Prince George’s County, Maryland as the “nigger district” made national if not international news. Everybody’s talking about it. I think a lot of people are wondering why such low language is even imaginable in this day and time. It showed a serious lack of respect. My only disappointment is how long it took for the heat to hit Lisanti.
I think if Lisanti, for example, had made a disparaging comment to the LGBTQ or Jewish community, she would have been gone immediately. We have seen what happens when either of these groups felt disrespected in the past, and it is not pretty.
I don’t want to hear an apology. I don’t care if you get therapy. I want you gone. The African American community and those decent human beings who stand with us demand it. And so, on this last day of Black History Month – designed by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in-part to pay homage to Frederick Douglass, let us all reflect on the heralded efforts of this larger-than-life Marylander who, among his many accomplishments, was also the most photographed figure of his time. He went from a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to becoming US Ambassador to Haiti. His words were heard across the globe.
I think back on another Marylander who had the ferociousness of a lion but also a gentle, loving heart. She is one of my heroes. Her name is Harriet Tubman. I pray that before Lisanti calls another black man or woman a “nigger”, that she takes a minute and learn about this American hero who helped save over 700 slaves at one time. I pray that Lisanti comes to understand how Araminta “Minty” Ross was more than a “nigger”. She was a general. She was the equivalent of a Navy Seal. And just like we pay homage to all of the soldiers in the Middle East and elsewhere on behalf of this country today, we must not ever be so ignorant to the truth that we are blinded by petty ignorance. Harriet Tubman was a spy for the Union Army, was revered by all who loved her, and was even invited to the White House (although she declined). Further, with her Colt .45 at her side, she saved countless African Americans via the Underground Railroad and never lost a passenger. To boot, she had white friends, like John Brown. John Brown is another one of my heroes. You talk about courage? He died fighting to end slavery. How many of us today, black or white, have the courage to lay down our lives for what is right? How many of us today would go out there and sacrifice our own well-being … our comfortable lifetstyle … our Benz … our home with the picket fence … our lucrative career just to save somebody?
Before Lisanti calls another person of color a “nigger” – even under her breath, I pray that she comes to learn what “niggers” actually contributed to the building of this country, like another Marylander, Benjamin Banneker. As she had or has hopes of going higher in politics to Washington, D.C. just down the road, I hope she comes to learn that Banneker was the man who actually helped construct the nation’s capital. A free African American from Baltimore County, Banneker was an almanac author, surveyor, naturalist, and farmer. On top of that, he was self-taught.
There is no room for discrimination in this country. Lisanti not only disrespected one of if not the wealthiest African American areas in the country – a “Black Wall Street” if you will, she also disrespected an entire race. Thus, we as a community, demand her immediate departure from state politics for she is unfit to lead the people. Since she never knew any better, let her now learn the meaning of respect.