HARTFORD, CT — Sen. Gayle Slossberg, who co-chairs the legislature’s Education Committee, came under fire from a College Democrats group at the University of Connecticut for using the “N-word, without euphemisms, within the context of its presence in the books.”
Slossberg, who spoke to the group earlier this month, said she used the word in the context of relaying her experience during efforts to remove the word from outdated children’s books in her local schools.
“We, as a club, believe that State Senator Slossberg’s use of this word is reprehensible and unjustifiable. There is no excuse for her use of this kind of language, regardless of context,” the UConn College Democrats wrote in an Oct. 3 statement.
In a statement Thursday, Slossberg said her “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.”
She said she referenced the “Word as it appeared in the text of a children’s book. My point was to emphasize that that Word had no place in a children’s book in a children’s library or any place else.”
Democrats for Education Reform CT also weighed in on the controversy Thursday.
They said the comments “were inappropriate and completely inexcusable in any context. This behavior does not represent the judgment we would expect from the Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly,” the group said.
“Our leaders must speak for and serve all students, regardless of race, religion, self-identity or economic status. In our economically and racially diverse state, our elected representatives should be held to the highest standards and turn from some of the divisiveness and intolerance we are seeing nationally. We should expect no less.”
The NAACP and the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus also said they were “deeply disturbed” about Slossberg’s lack of judgment.
“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” and its contemporary use to provoke fear and intimidation,” Scot X. Esdaile, president of the CT NAACP State Conference and NAACP national board member, said.
“Removing books from Libraries with problematic language may be admirable to some,” he said. “However, we believe it is even more imperative to remove negative, demeaning terms from one’s personal language.”
He said they want to have a conversation with Slossberg about her use of the word.
Slossberg has been under fire from the left recently as one of eight Democratic legislators who voted in favor of a Republican budget. The budget was vetoed last month by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.