I’m back! I haven’t been able to write a post for a while now because I have been trying to find what it is I would like to say. For those of you who know me, it may come as a shock to you that I am having a hard time trying to say something…period. For the first time in a long time, I’m stumped. I’ll get to my point…
It’s been quite some time that I have focused on the “right thing to say” because too often I am hearing the “wrong” things. I, too, have been guilty of saying the “wrong” things. I have found in the last six months that words can be wonderful, uplifting, and healing. They can bring in sunshine and warm your heart. Unfortunately, there are times when words cast a dark cloud over even the most joyous of things. Like people. Like this beautiful person…
And while almost everyone I know holds a place in their heart for this girl, there might be some absent mindedness in words people choose to use. I think you can guess what word I am referring to…the r-word. Retarded. It makes my fingers cringe to even type it. Let me just say that I am no saint. In the past, I vulgarly used the awful r-word when I definitely could have made better choices in vocabulary. It’s unfortunate that it took my daughter to show me what a terrible word it truly is. How ignorant of me.
So I had to question myself…do I really have a place writing on this matter?
Sure I do. Why not show people what it means to me and many others when we hear it. I have been thinking for so long how to put into words the message I want to get across the board. Part of my advocating my daughter will be this–cautioning people to choose their words wisely. While many times, I believe there is no direct malice behind phrases such as:
“She is so retarded.” Or…”I am such a retard, I left my coat at home.” Or…”That’s retarded,”
I have to tell you that it makes blood boil when I hear it. This is something I have been confronting for months now. When it is said around me, I realize there is no implication regarding my daughter. But it offends me just the same. It’s the context in which it is used that is too frequently forgotten. I think the best way I can get my point across is by sharing this with you from www.r-word.org,
“How “retardation” went from a clinical description to a word of derision
When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.”
Let’s be honest, the word is dated and so are the old stereotypes of Down Syndrome.
I know my daughter is not now and never will be a less valued member of society. Do you?
Words like this are offensive. Words like this are hurtful. Words like this are hateful. But yet they are used insultingly to mock and judge people who have no control over what has been given to them…like an extra chromosome.
So I challenge you. Tomorrow, (March 7, 2012), marks the annual day of activation for the “Spread The Word To End The Word” campaign. All across the country, our government leaders are taking action and removing the r-word from medical terminology and encouraging others to use respectable words. Students are taking action. Mamas and daddys are taking action. You can too!
Take the pledge and pass it on. Educate yourself. Educate your friends. Take action and stand up for your peers. You can be the voice that stands up Tessa and so many others.
Go ahead, visit www.r-word.org and take the pledge. It takes seconds, but lasts much longer. Stand by your pledge.
My message is simple–Don’t say it.
We are so much better than we let on sometimes.
retarded out of your vocab.