CT Sen. Slossberg apologizes for comments during meeting with UC - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT Sen. Slossberg apologizes for comments during meeting with UConn students

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State Sen. Gayle Slossberg apologized for comments she made during a meeting with university students about the state budget. (WFSB) State Sen. Gayle Slossberg apologized for comments she made during a meeting with university students about the state budget. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A state senator apologized for comments she made during a meeting with university students about the state budget. 

The University of Connecticut College Democrats said they invited state Sen. Gayle Slossberg to speak about the state budget at their Oct. 3 meeting. The UConn College Democrats said they wanted Slossberg to focus on the impact on UConn since she voted for the Republican budget. 

Slossberg along with Senate Democrats Joan Hartley and Paul Doyle voted "no" on the Democrats budget on Sept. 15 and in favor of the Republican proposal.

While introducing herself, Slossberg stated she started her political career on a local PTA board and worked to remove books with racial epithets from grade school libraries. 

However, UConn College Democrats said while describing that work, Slossberg "explicitly used the N-word, without euphemisms, within the context of its presence in the books." 

UConn College Democrats said they have "received a formal apology" from Slossberg.

"We, as a club, believe that State Senator's 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," UConn College Democrats said in a statement on Oct. 7. 

Slossberg said during the meeting, she "relayed a personal experience about education and fighting racism" when she worked to get "books that were outdated and inappropriate for elementary school children."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," Slossberg said in a statement on Thursday. 

Slossberg went on to further explain her comments. 

"To be clear:  At an academic institution of higher education, I 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.  And I successfully worked to remove these inappropriate books from the children’s library," Slossberg said in a statement on Thursday. 

UConn College Democrats said this incident caused a "visceral reaction" from some of their members and they will discuss it at their next meeting. 

"We seek to create dialogue across political lines, especially within our own party. However, the use of this word transcends political opinion and partisanship, and we refute the use of this word and any others that target the identities of groups affected by racism," UConn College Democrats said. 

To read the full statement from UConn College Democrats, click here

The NAACP released a statement on Thursday saying "The Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches, the largest and oldest Civil Rights Organization in the State, and the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus of State Legislators are releasing a joint statement concerning the recent racial comments Sen. Gayle Slossberg made while speaking to the UCONN College Democrats. The UCONN College Democrats student group released an official statement regarding disturbing comments made by State Senator Slossberg during an invited talk to discuss the current state budget. Senator Slossberg began her remarks by describing her early work to remove books with racial epithets from grade school libraries. Senator Slossberg repeatedly used the N-word in describing her work without properly referencing it as a euphemism. Based on this information the NAACP and the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus are deeply disturbed about State Sen. Slossberg's poor lack of judgement. 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. As a nation we have watched in shock as white supremacists carrying torches shouted chants that included derogatory references to Blacks and Jews in Charlottesville. On college campuses across the US, and indeed here in Connecticut, we have witnessed the need for respectful dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and difference that doesn't promote the wanton use of pejorative terms and stereotypes. 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. For over ten years the NAACP has led a national effort to "bury the N word" based on the belief that a civil society demands a basic level of respect that should be shared by all people. The Connecticut NAACP and the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus request an immediate meeting with Sen. Slossberg to discuss this very important matter and to prevent this type of insensitive behavior and poor judgement from happening again. Our children and young people look to elected officials and community leaders for guidance. We must lead with the values we seek to promote. Scot X. Esdaile, President CT NAACP State Conference NAACP National Board Member

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