Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Please Stop

Please don't say that word around me.

The "r" word.

Do I even have to type it out? I wish I didn't, but if I promised to use this space for anything, it's to educate, so here goes. The "r" word has become one of those words that I just cringe (and die a little inside) when it's said. It's a hurtful word used mostly in ignorance. Heck, I know I used it before Jack was born. Now I know better.

The word is retard, folks. Please remove it from your vocabulary.

For a moment, sit and think what it must feel like to hear that word used. Imagine what it feels like to a parent of a kid with developmental delays. To kids with speech disorders. To kids with cerebral palsy. Like "that's so retarded" or "what a retard!" or "haha they thought he was retarded"... inferring that something or someone is stupid, less than, a moron or idiot. Can you see where I'm going here? Not cool, people. Not cool at all. My son is not less than. He is a freaking miracle.

I know there are a lot of campaigns going on out there to remove words from our vocabulary. I'm not the first one (by a long shot) to the scene of this issue. And I'm for sure not the thought or the speech police. I know you have a freedom to say and do things. I can't make others around me stop using words. I can only plea to your good conscience.

And I can also do this. I can choose who I am around. I can choose who I listen to and who I hold in high regard. I can choose to remove myself from a conversation. I can choose to confront. 

Is this easy or pleasant? Of course not. But this is necessary. I am looking out for my precious boy and many others like him that do not have a voice.

Sad to say, this word is used pretty commonly in my community and in my sphere. And if it doesn't rip my heart out each time I hear it.

Please stop.
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11 comments:

Ashley said...

This is good to remind people of. Right now we are nit dealing with that but that James is turning into a "normal" baby. James pediatrician tells me that all the time and it bothers me so much. James is and had always been a "normal" baby, he just came early. I know that's not as bad but it is frustrating and hurtful hearing those things about someone er love so much.

Athena said...

I think people need to realize that times change. There are many words that used to be the norm that have become hateful. I used to use the r word also, until my son came along. Now I try to be mindful of what I say to him because I don't want him using those words that can hurt others. I think as parents we have a responsibility to raise respectful, empathetic children. I pray my son and daughter never treat anyone badly just because they are different, because they were once very different also...

The Trousdell Five said...

This is such a great post. I have been trying to find the words to write one of my own and have had it in draft mode for ages, trying to come up with the perfect way to say it. Not that it's a difficult message to convey - Just STOP using the word people! So many people in my life drop it in conversation like it is nothing, having no idea how hurtful it is.

Julie said...

What a great post! We can only educate and appeal to people. Like anything else, the majority of people do not even think about it and it's only through awareness that we can change it! Thanks for writing this!

Naomi said...

Amen!

Anchel (@AnchelK) said...

This is a great post (thanks for sharing Tracey from The Trousdell Five). Like you, I was guilty of using the r-word far too frequently and inappropriately before having my daughter (who has CP and speech challenges; you can read more about us here: http://www.todaysparent.com/specialneeds) came along. Now I just try and be a bit more mindful in what I am saying because words can hurt...so much. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jessi. All my life, I have worked with children and adults with special needs. My dad was a school administrator working with teachers of children with special needs. I didn't even like that word when it was considered "appropriate",and now it is mainstream slang. My stomach gets in knots everytime I hear it.
We had a huge movement in our school last year to get rid of it. There is a national campaign called Spread the word to END the Word. We had a huge assembly and every student got t shirts with positive words that our classes generated. Several students with disabilities shared their stories and how they are successful and advocate for themselves. The West Mont cheerleaders were there, and the kids gave all of the presenters standing ovations. The age I teach probably uses that word most often
However, when people are reminded and educated, it makes a tremendous difference. It only takes one person to give others the strength to do the right thing and love others for who they are. I believe it starts with the kids-who always surprise me with the innate good in their hearts. Adults can be a little tougher, however, it is worth speaking up and advocating for, like you said, those who can't. The more voices, the stronger the message. Thanks Jessi for being the stone who ripples the water in order to educate others for the good of all!

Kelli Johanesen said...

Amen to that! I also hate the new comments about "riding the little yellow bus". Instead of say "You're so r******", they say "You must ride the little yellow bus". I agree that it is not cool at all! People of all abilities are wonderful and should be celebrated.

Anonymous said...

Are "crazy" or "dumb" really any better? I don't think children, adolescents or adults with metal health issues like hearing the word crazy. Dumb means unable to speak, although now it is used widely to mean stupid. But really, I don't think replacing one offensive word with a different offensive word is the answer. I think we need to teach our children compassion and loving, kindness....for everyone.

Ellen said...

Great post, Jessi. I particularly loved when you said "I can choose to remove myself from a conversation. I can choose to confront."

Anon, you are right, the underlying message all parents should teach their kids is to be kind to everyone. But words DO matter, and the word "retard" has taken on real baggage. It's a slur. It's hate speech. Parents like us will continue to talk out about it.

agent117 said...

I hate that word! My son is an ex 24 weeker who is now 5 years old. He has Oral, Verbal and Motor dyspraxia, mild cerebral palsy, Sensory processing disorder, auditory processing disorder, proprioceptive discrimination and a mild intellectual impairment. He is actually quite intelligent but the disabilities make learning new tasks hard but once he learns them he is competent at them, he just needs people to teach him in the way he learns. We have had the r comment and I die a little inside everytime I hear it. My kids have been brought up to be tolerant and too never judge anyone by appearance, colour, disabilities etc and I would be shocked if my kids ever used this word!