What Ms. Lisanti Should Know About Prince George’s
Why Prince George’s County Can’t Be Defined By A Derogatory Comment
By Raoul Dennis // Additional Research By Maria Lopez-Bernstein and D.A. Phillips
Although there’s a national chorus calling for Maryland House Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (D) to step down, most average Prince Georgians aren’t dwelling on her racial slur.
Her remarks are typical and irrelevant. They are typical because it seems that so many elected officials are having race–related faux pas that perhaps it’s just a matter of seeing their truest colors shining through to the public forum. They are irrelevant for many because Prince Georgians know who they are.
Prince George’s is the home to people from over 100 nations; 75% of these residents speak English, 24% speak nearly 100 other languages (including Spanish). It is the home to over 15 religions and over 800 churches and religious institutions. Prince George’s County is the home of Air Force One, The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, National Harbor, MGM National Harbor, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, two global universities and The Washington Redskins.
It’s the birthplace and home to world class figures from Sesame Street creator Jim Henson to boxing’s Sugar Ray Leonard and Riddick Bowe, to acting’s S. Epatha Merkerson and Taraji Henson to performers Mya and JC Chasez. The county’s sons and daughters include Google Co-founder Sergey Brin, who grew up in Adelphi and went to Prince George’s County Schools (he earned a B.S. at UMD), Jan Scruggs, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Naval scientist Roger Easton, Sr., chief inventor of the Global Positioning System – better known as GPS. And don’t forget NBA Former MVP and philathropist Kevin Durant, Toni Braxton, the multi Grammy award winning R&B artist and Marcia Gay Harden, the Academy, Tony and Primetime Emmy award-winning actress. She hails from Clinton. The list goes on. All of these first class icons of their fields, who made such amazing contributions to the world she now enjoys, hail from or came through the county Ms. Lisanti dared to brush off with a typical, racial slur.
Prince George’s is one of the fastest growing economies in the state – leading Maryland’s new job creation over the past two years. Over $7 billion in new development has come to the county. It has enjoyed its greatest reduction in violent crime and homicides in 35 years. Life expectancy has increased by nearly two years in Prince George’s in less than a decade – a notable achievement in social health.
Besides Montgomery and Baltimore Counties, not many jurisdictions in Maryland can claim to have either the assets or the economic potential Prince George’s County has.
Prince Georgians know all this. They know the remarkable history, tapestry, growth and potential the county has. So, the loose-lipped musings of one delegate isn’t going to shake them – even as they believe she should resign for saying them.
Perhaps Ms. Lisanti doesn’t know any of this: all the more reason that in addition to a direct apology to the county, she should visit Prince George’s. She should tour Prince George’s.
Ms. Lisanti should meet our veterans, our civil servants, our educators and faith leaders. She would be impressed with our Homeland Security and the groundbreaking work our police department is doing. The Hartford delegate would get a bird’s eye view of the national model programs being implemented, recognized and awarded coming out of our public schools system and Prince George’s Community College.
She would learn that such a place and its people cannot be boxed into such simple, archaic and limited formations.
And after that experience and her apology, Ms. Lisanti just may want to consider relocating and becoming a Prince Georgian herself. As teachable moments go, what a day that would be.