Stop Using the R-word

07 March

 

Just beautiful.  I am SO proud of my cousin Sara, who made this video. The inspiration behind it is my cousin Justin (Sara’s brother), who has Down syndrome.

This video supports the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, an on-going initiative from Special Olympics and Best Buddies to eradicate the derogatory use of the word “retard(ed)” from everyday use and promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

This is by no means scientific, but here’s my best guess to gauge people’s inappropriate use of the R-word:

  • 5% of people use the word purposely, knowing it hurts an entire class of people. These folks are haters, and there’s not really any point to addressing them, in my eyes.
  • 95% use the word carelessly in everyday speech, to describe something they view as wrong or stupid.  These folks are so used to saying or hearing the word, that they don’t give it a second thought – it just seems to automatically come out of their mouth.

It’s the 95% folks that I am speaking to here: Please Stop Using the R-word. It is very hurtful to those who have a disability, as well as to the people who love them. When I hear people use it, I ache inside. I immediately think of Justin and how amazing he is. And then I get angry. Now I call out people when they use the R-word,which is pretty big for me, since I don’t like confrontation in the slightest.

Ending use of the R-word is not about liberty. It’s about respect. I realize that it’s ridiculous to try to ban a word. We have the freedom to use whatever word we want, rightfully so. But even though you have the right to use the word retard, just know that you also pay a “tax”:

  • You come off as a jerk, disrespecting an entire group of people with special needs.
  • You are viewed as a bully, insulting a population of folks who have done nothing wrong and cannot defend themselves.
  • If you are a brand or company using the word, just know that people are now avoiding you. Whether it’s a unified boycott or just individual consumers, people are hurt and will stop using your product. I certainly have my personal list of brands to avoid – when someone I love has been insulted by a company or brand, I NEVER forget.

The goal here is to spread awareness about the R-word. We don’t want to make it illegal or to shame people for using it.  Just from now on, think before you speak.

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