A state senator invited to the University of Connecticut by a Democratic group ignited a backlash for using the “N-word” during their meeting.
The UConn College Democrats invited Sen. Gayle Slossberg, a Milford Democrat and one of three Democrats who voted in favor of a state budget proposed by Republicans, to speak on Oct. 3 about the impact of the state budget on the university.
“[Slossberg] began her remarks by describing her early work to remove books with racial epithets from grade school libraries,” a statement released by the NAACP and the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus on Thursday said. “Senator Slossberg repeatedly used the N-word in describing her work without properly referencing it as a euphemism.”
The caucus and the Connecticut State Conference of NAACP said they were deeply disturbed about the senator’s “poor lack of judgment.”
In a statement sent to the Courant on Thursday night, Slossberg said: “In my introductory remarks to the UConn College Democrats, I relayed a personal experience about education and fighting racism. I was talking about children’s books that were outdated and inappropriate for elementary school children. In describing that the books were so inappropriate for young children, I referenced the actual Word aloud as it appeared in the text of a children’s book. My intention was to convey that this Word has no place in our society, especially in teaching our children. I responded immediately for the offense caused by my utterance and sent a formal apology to the entire club.”
The college Democrats had called the use of the word “reprehensible” and “unjustifable” regardless of the context.
“In this heightened climate of racial tension it is particularly disturbing that a legislator, elected to represent all residents of her district and indeed the state, would show such blatant disregard for the vile, painful, and ugly history of the ‘N word,’” the statement from the NAACP and the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus said.
“Removing books from Libraries with problematic language may be admirable to some. However, we believe it is even more imperative to remove negative, demeaning terms from one's personal language.”