PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rep. Anastasia Williams has broken her silence regarding an incident on the House floor last week, naming the lawmaker who she says used a racial slur against her amidst a heated debate.
Williams addressed the House Chamber regarding the incident, indicating a colleague she respected “had the audacity” to call her a “house slave.” She also used the “N” word.
At the time, Williams did not name the person. But in a statement Tuesday, she said “after much contemplation and reflection” she chose to break her silence by naming the lawmaker, Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, who reportedly used the racial slur against her.
“I had hoped by not revealing her name, or the names of who she spoke to, she would realize the magnitude of her actions and that she would apologize,” Williams said. Both women are Providence Democrats.
But after Ranglin-Vassell released an open letter denying her involvement in what she called a “war of words” on the House floor, Williams said she felt she must “further correct the fictions that she continues to spread in order to protect her own self-interests.”
“It is no longer hearsay nor speculation,” Williams said. “Her comments, behavior and denial of what she called me in the chamber is indicative of the conversations and division that will intentionally continue to harm, oppress and keep the poor and community of color behind.”
In her open letter, Ranglin-Vassell said she would never use the derogatory word, let alone in the House Chamber.
“I spend countless hours during my day begging and pleading with young people not to use the ‘N word.’ Any claim that those words came from my mouth is patently false,” Ranglin-Vassell said. “To even suggest that those words emitted from my mouth is meant to assassinate my character and integrity.”
She also said the entire incident has caused her “personal and emotional pain.”
Williams called Ranglin-Vassell’s lack of honesty “troubling.” She also heavily criticized Ranglin-Vassell’s misrepresentation of their professional relationship.
“She referred to us as ‘sistas’ in her letter, yet, in the same letter, she says we are merely ‘cordial’ colleagues. ‘Sistas’ do not tear each other down, nor do they communicate only twice in several years, especially when we serve in the same chamber every day,” Williams said.
Below is the full response from Williams:
After much contemplation and reflection, I am compelled to respond to the open letter written by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell on February 16, 2020. Simply put, the comments and explanations she made to others regarding me while in the House Chamber on February 13 were unwarranted, disgusting and hateful. The fact that she felt the need to explain what a “house slave” is to our shared colleagues is also utterly disturbing. I know who I am and who I choose to ally with, as I know that I am the proud daughter of Ben and Rose.
Her disrespectful and conscious action of labeling me a “house slave” to our colleagues because she failed to properly follow the chamber rules during the minimum wage debate was completely and maliciously intended without dignity, integrity, transparency, and most importantly of all, truth. Her lack of honesty is also quite troubling. I had hoped by not revealing her name, or the names of who she spoke to, she would realize the magnitude of her actions and that she would apologize. Yet, as evidenced by her open letter to the media, she has instead chosen to continue to distract and to run and hide from the truth.
And since her letter to the media tried to establish an untruthful history of our personal and professional relationship, I must use this avenue to further correct the fictions that she continues to spread in order to protect her own self-interests.
On May 6, 2017, we had breakfast together to discuss her concerns regarding the House legislative process. This was a one-time event. In 2019, she called to discuss another matter and while on the phone for a very short period, someone came to her home and she said she needed to call me back and she never did. She should not imply that we have a relationship that we clearly do not have, nor purposely misrepresent our professional relationship as colleagues in the House of Representatives. She referred to us as “sistas” in her letter, yet, in the same letter she says we are merely “cordial” colleagues. “Sistas” do not tear each other down, nor do they communicate only twice in several years, especially when we serve in the same chamber every day. The inconsistencies in her own correspondence further highlight the factual inaccuracies within her letter.
The personal and emotional pain she cited coming directly from me was caused by only her, a colleague who I respect. But, after reading her letter filled with falsehoods, I am now directly naming her, Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, as the person responsible for reprehensibly calling me a “house slave” on the chamber floor. It is no longer all merely hearsay nor speculation.
Her comments, behavior, and denial of what she called me in the chamber is indicative of the conversations and division that will intentionally continue to harm, oppress and keep the poor and community of color behind.
As mentioned in her letter, in the spirit of Christian love, a reconciliation should take place. However, no reconciliation can occur until she tells the entire truth. She is the author of this narrative, but the truth will be the finisher of this unfortunate incident. Therefore, she needs to own up to it so that the real healing process can truly begin.Rep. Anastasia Williams