Originally Posted by theplaydrive
The director of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams's constituent services office resigned after being accused of using a racial slur, the mayor's office said yesterday.
David Howard, head of the Office of Public Advocate, said he used the word "niggardly" in a Jan. 15 conversation about funding with two employees.
"I used the word 'niggardly' in reference to my administration of a fund," Howard said in a written statement yesterday. "Although the word, which is defined as miserly, does not have any racial connotations, I realize that staff members present were offended by the word.
"I immediately apologized," Howard said. " . . . I would never think of making a racist remark. I regret that the word I did use offended anyone."
When Howard, who is white, noticed the reaction to his use of the word, he apologized to his three-member staff, which is made up of two blacks and another white. It is unclear which two employees he was addressing when he used the word.
Soon after the remark was uttered, the rumor mill started churning that Howard had used the word "nigger."
Howard said he has received numerous telephone calls since Jan. 15 from people in the community who had heard "I had made a racist remark . . . [which is] in fact unquotable here."
The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of "niggardly" to the 1300s and the words nig and nigon, meaning miser, in Middle English. It also notes possible earlier origins in languages including Old Icelandic, Old English and Middle High German. There is no mention of any racial connotation.
Howard said the rumor that he had used a racial slur "has severely compromised my effectiveness as the District's Public Advocate and in the best interest of my office, I resigned," effective Monday.
Howard is the second mayoral appointee in two weeks to quit, and his resignation comes at a time when Williams's administration is being bombarded with questions regarding race relations -- his "loyalty" to his race as well as the diversity of his staff. Williams (D) is black; Howard was one of four white men Williams appointed on the first official business day of his administration.
Five days after Williams named the senior policy advisers, a group of residents from east of the Anacostia River -- many of whom had been part of the Draft Williams Committee -- complained that the mayor had "missed a unique opportunity" to name someone who lives in Southeast Washington to his personal staff. And they questioned whether Williams would be responsive to the predominantly black and working-class communities of the city.