Friday, March 9, 2012

Stop The R-Word

"That's so retarded!"
"I'm such a 'tard."
"What a RETARD!!"
"I was so drunk, I was riding the short bus."

Funny, right?  Harmless slang... who cares?  We all say it.  The "politically correct movement" must be at it again, trying to take something that has no derogatory meaning at all, something that is said in complete innocence, just to make a federal case about it.  Right?  Is that your line of thinking right now?

Yeah, well if you are a user of the R-word, you're talking about my peeps.  Those teens below, they are the souls to whom you are referring. They are all severely cognitively impaired, non-verbal, many are unable to perform their self-care without adult assistance.  Hahahaha!  Isn't that sooooo funny???  I'm just cracking up right now...  Not.

If you love someone with cognitive disabilities, then you already know how it stings to hear the R-word thrown around in casual conversation.  Those who are not connected to a person living with cognitive disabilities?  I'm here to tell you right now that hearing the R-word makes us emotionally and physically wince.  And, that's coming from me - a person who is neither overly sensitive nor on the Politically Correct bandwagon.  But, this is my daughter you're talkin' about when you say such things and this is a group of individuals who can not speak up and defend themselves the way other groups can.  Which is probably why the derogatory word has lingered for so much longer.  We need to help an entire group by being their voice.

"Retarded" is a serious diagnosis written on a medical report, not a funny way to tell a story.   The diagnosis is made when someone performs below a certain level on a standardized intelligence test and is below their age level with performing basic, daily living skills independently.  Period.  Not really something you'd typically make jokes about or demean, right?  Yet, if you refer to someone or something as a "Retard" it is always said in a joking or uncomplimentary way.  It's never said as flattery.  The joke infers that the thing or person is dumb, idiotic, ineffective, slow, or even worthless.   Nothing positive is attached to the slang form of "retard."  Nothing.

So, whether you realize you are doing it or not, if you use this terminology (innocent as the intentions may be) it really perpetuates negative thoughts on a societal level about... well, about people living with Mental Retardation.  I don't really think there is anyway around it.

If you find yourself using the terms "Retard" and "Retarded," I know it isn't meant to be unkind.  It is a naive mistake.  Gosh, I used to say it all the time until... well, until.  Until the word started meaning something personal and painful to  me.  But, guess what? Now you know better.  So, please DO better.  Wake up, take a step, and just think.  Think who it hurts.  It hurts those living with cognitive impairments and it hurts the mothers, fathers and siblings who love them.  Please consider a different word to say next time you're making a joke, because it's not nice to ever joke at someone else's expense.  You can even take it a step further by stopping someone else when THEY say it and educate them a little, because they probably aren't thinking about it much either.

Change has to start somewhere, and we all have a responsibility to speak up for those who don't have the voice to do it themselves.

Take the pledge:   Spread The Word To End The Word .  You can make it official by visiting the link.

CB, her family and I personally thank you!


rhemashope said...

thank you.

earlybirdies said...

So very well said. Thank you for writing this. I am a high school English teacher and I hear this aaaaaaaaall the time thrown around by students. I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle! Same for anti-gay slurs. Fortunately, most adults I know don't use these words, thank goodness. But I still hear it on a daily basis. Thank you for doing your part in keeping up the fight.

And thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog! :).

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