Maryland lawmaker apologises for using racist slur in floor speech

Rep David Trone apologised, saying the word has a ‘long dark terrible history’

Martha McHardy
Friday 22 March 2024 18:22 GMT
Democratic Rep. David Trone sets sights on Senate

A Maryland Democratic congressman has been forced to apologise after he used a racist slur during a speech he made on Capitol Hill.

Rep David Trone made the apology after he dropped a disparaging term for Black people while speaking during a House Budget Committee hearing about tax policy in which the director of the Office of Budget and Management, Shalanda Young, was testifying. Ms Young is Black.

“So this Republican jigaboo that it’s the tax rate that’s stopping business investment, it’s just completely faulty by people who have never run a business. They’ve never been there. They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about,” he said.

The slur is a derogatory and offensive term for a Black person. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, its origins can be traced back to a song from 1909, with the word being used throughout the early 20th century in association with the mockery of stereotypical African-American physical features.

Mr Trone apologised for his remarks in a statement to The Washington Post, claiming he misspoke and meant to use a different word.

“While attempting to use the word ‘bugaboo’ in a hearing, I misspoke and mistakenly used a phrase that is offensive,” he said.

Merriam-Webster defines “bugaboo” as “an imaginary object of fear”.

Rep David Trone (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Trone added that the word he used has a “long dark terrible history” and that it “should never be used any time, anywhere, in any conversation.”

“Upon learning the meaning of the word I was deeply disappointed to have accidentally used it, and I apologise,” he said, adding: “I recognize that as a White man, I have privilege. And as an elected official, I have a responsibility for the words I use — especially in the heat of the moment. Regardless of what I meant to say, I shouldn’t have used that language.”

Mr Trone was criticised on social media for his remarks, with one person writing: “Rep. David Trone needs to explain why TF he used the word j*ggaboo in a budget hearing today.

“I watched his comments in context, and using that word was totally bizarre. No, it wasn’t racial, but because that’s not the kind of word that should even be in your head to slip out, I’m side eyeing him. Since his ads paint him as a racial justice warrior, he *should* know better!”

Others called for Mr Strone to resign amid his remarks. “He knew exactly what he was doing and should resign and drop out of the senate race,” another X user wrote.

Mr Strone is currently competing against County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who is Black, for the Democratic nomination to run for a seat in the Senate.

He is the frontrunner for the nomination and will likely face Maryland’s former Republican governor, Larry Hogan, in the general election if he wins.

Early polls suggested a tight race between the two. However, a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll released on Wednesday showed Mr Hogan with a double-digit lead.

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