I used to get angry.
Personally, I never really used the “R-Word.” Even when I was young, I suppose I had an innate sense that saying retard or retarded wasn’t as funny as some seemed to think. Then a few years ago, I stumbled across the R-Word Campaign… Spread the Word to End the Word. It was then that I realized how often people actually use the term… and how derisive it really was.
So I started my own little campaign. I wrote posts about it. I had an entire speech created in my head, just waiting for the right moment to give it. My roommate used to laugh at me–but I knew she understood. If someone happened to use the word in conversation, she’s lecture them on my behalf. (I was very grateful for my roommate).
But I don’t really get angry anymore. First of all, the use of the word is so common–if I got angry every time I used it, I would probably never have a calm moment!
Yet I also realize that most people don’t intentionally use the word to demean those with intellectual disabilities. That really hit home when I heard my own brother and sister use that word! It didn’t happen often, but I realized that someone needed to sit down and explain to them why that word isn’t okay. When we did, it wasn’t immediately dropped from their vocabulary. But with time and a few reminders, I now seldom (if ever) hear the word around our home.
So instead of getting angry, I simply want to educate. Most of the people who use the word simply don’t understand why it isn’t acceptable. I think once you know… most of you will be intentional about removing it from your vocabulary.
Here are my top five reasons why the R-Word should be removed from your vocabulary.
- When you use a word that refers to a certain class of people as a putdown, you are putting down that entire group of people. You are comparing something derogatory to people who have intellectual disabilities. That is not okay.
- When you use that word, you are probably trying to say something is “dumb” or “stupid” or a person is a “loser” or some other negative thing. Here’s the thing… my sister is not dumb, stupid, or a loser. But according to an outdated medical term, she is mentally retarded. So please, please, please don’t equate the two.
- If you are a decent human being, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t call people some of THESE names.
Would you? I didn’t think so. Add the R-Word to your list terms that are simply not acceptable.
- My sister is a person with great value and worth. Reducing her abilities to this one word fails to account for all the incredible gifts she has, the sparkle that she adds to life, and the very simple fact that she is a person created in the image of God with inherent worth. And that is worth respecting.
- While you may have the “right” to use any word you choose… I believe you also have the integrity to choose words of honor and respect. If we all chose to speak those kinds of words, imagine how we could change the world.
So please… take some time to think about whether you are using language that respects or that tears down. Then when you hear the word, have the courage to stand up. Together, we can Spread the Word to End the Word.