On our way home today, from my dental appointment we stopped at the gas station to fill up. A group of high school students walked by and in all their laughter and loud banter, I heard one of them exclaim to the other, “you’re so retarded” and then laughed. To them, it was a nothing word; like it wouldn’t have been any different if they had used ridiculous in place of retarded….but yet they didn’t; they chose the r-word and that breaks my heart. It tells me that we still have a ways to go as a society. It tells me we are failing to properly educate our children about language which is not only offensive, but laced with ignorance and discrimination.
So this brings me to my post.
Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words.
For those of you who don’t know, this is my daughter Olivia and she has special needs. Once upon a time ago, the word retarded would have been used as a label to describe hers, and others intellectual capabilities. It was a word that definitively described people like her, as being less. She most certainly is NOT less. People like her are NOT less. When you continue to use this word in conversation, you are indirectly promoting discrimination against her and the entire special needs community. So look at her face. Remember her face. Every time you are about to use the r-word in casual conversation, I hope her face floods your mind and reminds you that saying that word, hurts her. It hurts the work that the special needs community has strived towards creating acceptance and inclusion within our society. So please, choose your words wisely. End the use of the r-word.