The R word. The word retard.
I admit that I used to use the word ... all.the.time. It was my synonym for the word stupid ... just like many other people in this country of ours.
I didn't know. I didn't know ... at the time ... how or why it was hurtful. Well ... I suppose I did know that it would be hurtful to those who had mental retardation, because I am pretty sure I would have never used the word in front of them -- even if I was only referring to something as being stupid.
Now ... I completely understand how hurtful it is. And it is my job ... as the mother of two beautiful girls with some extent of mental retardation ... to tell you why it is hurtful and to ask you to choose a different word.
Main Entry: re·tard1\ri-ˈtärd\ : a holding back or slowing down : retardation
2\ˈrē-ˌtärd\ often offensive : a retarded person; also : a person held to resemble a retarded person in behavior
This definition is taken right from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The first definition is the use of the word as a verb and the second definition is the use of the word as a noun. Funny how it is listed as being an offensive word right in the dictionary!
Yet ... many people not in my position think they have a foot to stand on when they say, "I wasn't referring to your child! Get a life -- you should not be offended!"
So suppose you are involved in a conversation with someone who says, "My phone is so retarded!"
Yes ... I get that you are trying to get your point across that your phone is stupid. Likely because of one way or another that it malfunctioned. So in essence, you are using the word retard to describe stupidity in light of a malfunction.
My two daughters have mental retardation. Are they stupid and not worthy of appropriate functioning because of that?
Do you catch my drift here? It is offensive to me and many other people in this country of ours ... heck, even across the world! Use of the word retard to mean stupid directly translates into your insinuation that people with mental retardation are stupid.
Ah ah ah -- shh! Stop. You can't argue with me about this, nor can you tell me I'm overreacting. Because I'm living it and you are not.
So please ... be respectful, be compassionate. The word hurts.
Well said! I used to say it as a kid, too, and I admitted it to the students today. It's about compassion, dignity, and respect towards others. I hope a few of the 250 students "got it".ReplyDelete
People say that all the time "I'm not saying it about your daughter." And I read people commenting that our having DS kids doesn't make us get it and not them. They are FULL OF IT! They just don't know, they just don't. And, they won't until their lives are touched by someone with a disability. Anyhow, some people, with compassionate hearts, will understand, and they will change. So we will keep preaching!!ReplyDelete
I just found your comment on our blog, so glad you found us because now we have found you. Your family is beautiful!!! You have a handsome young man and 2 beautiful little girls. I just watched the video of I think it was Peyton talking. It made me want to just squeeze her, she is so sweet. I have never heard of that diagnosis but I am glad to know about it in case Sam has the same thing. He is only 19 months but only says Dada and MaMa and he really now says ada for Dada. I used to live in D.C. for 6 years, pentagon city when I was single and I LOVED IT!!!! I can't wait to visit with the family, maybe we can look you up sometime and say hello if we ever get out there. Great post on the R word by the way. It's so hard to hear especially if it's your family saying it and not understanding why it's offensive and hurtful.ReplyDelete
Funny how I never was offended and even used the word before Sarge came into our lives. Now it's so disgusting to me that I can't even stand to think about how flippantly I used to throw it around. And I hear it everywhere now. Pretty sure I didn't notice it so much before. I'm so sorry I ever used the word, but I did use it. And I know most people who use it don't mean to be hurtful. But you are exactly right. IT HURTS.ReplyDelete