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Our organizations work together across Maryland on environmental issues. To us, that work is an integral part of the larger work for social justice. We strive to protect the natural world out of a concern for people, communities, and future generations. People can only thrive in a healthy ecosystem on a living planet. And too often, the same racism that has deprived people of color full access to wealth and opportunity has also deprived them of access to clean air and water.
Our organizations put our faith behind Harford County Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti as she emerged to play a leadership role in advancing a critical climate initiative for our communities. But Del. Lisanti’s racist outburst calls into question her respect for the leadership, staff, volunteers, and members of our organizations, as well as the people we advocate for.
Our organizations will not remain silent when the foundation of our work is to lift up communities engaging for our shared values across the state and to promote a healthy environment for all Marylanders. The act of crafting public policy as a Maryland elected official is a privilege and requires a fundamental respect for every person affected by those policies. With regard to Del. Lisanti’s comments in the Washington Post, alcohol is never an excuse for racism or racist behavior. Comparing racist epithets that dehumanize us, our partners, friends, and neighbors to mere profanity is equally unacceptable because it minimizes the past and present systems which weaponize difference.
We hope that Del. Lisanti will engage in rigorous soul-searching and anti-racism, anti-oppression training that could turn this offensive episode into a truly meaningful growth experience not just for herself, but also for her colleagues, constituents, the people of Maryland, and for everyone across the country who rejects implicit and explicit racism and hatred across our nation.
Our trust and confidence in her leadership is lost, especially on environmental issues that are core to our missions. Serving as a state elected official and being a state-wide leader on climate justice requires the full faith and trust of all Marylanders. Unfortunately, Delegate Lisanti spurned that trust and, as such, we believe the best course of action is for her to resign as a member of the House of Delegates.
Meanwhile, there is much work to be done. We urge Governor Hogan and the leadership of the Maryland Senate and Maryland House of Delegates to pass bold laws in 2019 that underscore our state's commitment to progress in the areas of environmental health, economic justice, and racial equity as prescient matters of social justice.
Maryland Environmental Health Network
Sierra Club Maryland Chapter
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV)
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Clean Water Action
Citizens Climate Lobby, Maryland
Food & Water Watch
The Earth Coalition
National Wildlife Federation Mid-Atlantic Regional Center
Maryland Conservation Council