Today is the official day of the End the R word campaign.
There is a story I could share about how this word was directed towards someone I love dearly.
But I won’t.
I heard what was muttered and the person it was directed towards did not. Putting it in print will not help either of us.
I was crushed, I wanted to cry and become an expert kick-boxer all at once so I could hurt this person the way they had just hurt me.
The incident still lingers in my mind but it’s purpose has been transformed.
Being slapped in the face with such ignorance changed my future.
I began to seek out places of acceptance rather than yearn for places of “normal.”
If there were not opportunities where they should be, I
harassed worked with people to make it happen.
And now, many, many years after The Incident I would like to go back and thank that poor man.
His uninformed, close-minded, cruel statement fueled a fire in me I didn’t know I had.
I have learned more from the character, determination and human kindess displayed at a Special Olympics game than I have ever learned from a college course or job experience.
People with special needs deserve more than a smile and an open door, they deserve our respect, our love and our advocacy.
Please take a moment today and pledge not to use the word “retard.” Not for a laugh or out of laziness or out of disregard for another’s feelings. Correct someone if you hear it said.
Ignorance is the most devastating disability of all.
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Kate Hopper says
Wonderful post, Jessica. Thank you. I grew up hearing this word all the time, and I’m thankful that I rarely hear it now, but this is a great reminder to speak out if I do.
I think it’s amazing that you were able to turn someone’s ignorance into the fuel to teach people better and different. People need to stop using “it’s a joke” as an excuse to make intolerable comments.
Sybil @ Peace it all Together says
I love how you turned a negative, hurtful event into something positive. Your Ashlyn is radiant, too!!
thank you for being such a leader and speaking out!
I despise this word! It hits very close to home for me. It is a banned word in our family.
Banned here too!
You are a wonderful advocate.
I pledged. Gladly. Easily! Hope everyone does.
Here in Australia, we have a word that expresses the same cruel senti TNT and ought to be banned. Spastic.
I don’t have anyone in my circles with special abilities, but there is enough diversity to feel rather strongly about using words like this as mere interjections in sentences or worse. People forget that they have a responsibility to others even more so because they are the “lucky ones”.
Glad I stopped by. Good for you for raising awareness.
Cannot agree more with you.. Thanks for making us aware! 🙂
Lady Jennie says
I clicked on the link which gave me a clue, then finally finished your post to figure out what the heck that word was. Fortunately I’m rather shielded from it. The people I grew up with didn’t use it, or not much. And our family definitely didn’t.
JDaniel4's Mom says
I so don’t like that word. It really doesn’t decribe who or what someone is. Everyone is different and special. No one person is perfect.
Kristin @ What She Said says
It makes my skin crawl to hear people toss that word around so frivolously. I actually flinch; it’s a physical reaction. I can honestly say that I never use it. Never. And I have a very hard time chewing people out who do. I have to bite my tongue very, very hard.
Thank you so much Alison.
Beautiful post! I’m not sure I could have showed the grace that you did, but I’m hoping our “special” kids will live in a world where acceptance is normal and that that awful word disappears forever.
I think I was so shocked and hurt that I couldn’t even speak. Once it was over I had all kinds of things I wished I would have said :).
Thank you for spreading the word about this. It always makes me cringe to hear, too.
And I’m so sorry I haven’t been over your ways in sometime. I’ve missed you. Going to get caught up now. XOXO
Miss you too and am behind at your place as well. Don’t worry about how often you visit, as long as you don’t forget about me! xoxo
I agree..I hate that word and often tell people that I can’t accept hearing it. All people deserve more respect than that word implies.
So glad you speak up and say something Kir.
You are such a wonderful advocate. Ignorance hurts.
I am stunned and saddened that this is still an issue. We don’t use the word in my house but…we can do more than that, it seems. I’m looking for ways I can help.
Thanks Kristen, truly appreciate everything you do to stop it from being used.
The Mommy Psychologist says
We are even trying to change the way we talk about diagnosis in regard to mental retardation in the field. We are moving towards cognitive impairment. Mostly because of all the negativity surrounding this word. Thanks so much for spreading awareness.
Totally agree and I always try to use “people first” language too, which I don’t see done often enough in the medical field.
I cringe when I hear it myself and I do the same – I try to make sure it’s not repeated in my presence again.
And that’s the best thing you can do, thanks Justine.
Brittany Stewart says
This is such a great cause, and needs to be brought to so many people’s attention. Great job with spreading the word.
Thank you Brittany.
You are so amazing. All the time. xo
Raw Thoughts And Feelings says
That word is used so often and freely as it was meant to be a joke nowadays. But I won’t allow my kids to use it for whatever the reason.
Not a Perfect Mom says
Kristen @ Motherese says
Amen! I feel lucky that I haven’t heard this word used in the longest time. Let’s hope that our generation of parents can work together to wipe it out of existence so that it never enters our kids’ vocabulary!
I truly hope so, a woman working at our pharmacy the other day said it, i was in such shock. I’m amazed that anyone could still use it.
We were taught never to say this word. To someone or about someone. If only every person teaches their children the same…
Hate when I hear that word. I hate when my MIL uses it to describe the child across the street – I always wonder how she would feel if it were her child or her grandchild. I used to correct my students when I taught in the classroom – it’s easy for me to say I can make the pledge.
Oh it would kill me if someone close to me said it often. So terrible.
Life As Wife says
You are a much better person than I. I want to karate chop that man! I hate when people use the “r” word or the “g” word to describe dislike. It irkes me too when people say midget instead of small person or little person. Words hurt!
THANK YOU for this! If there is one word I cannot STAND in the English language it’s that R word. Whether it be aimed AT someone or used to describe a situation, I cringe when it’s uttered. It’s outdated, inappropriate, cruel and ignorant. On the same level as the “N” word in my opinion. Keep up the great posts!!
Absolutely agree, I can’t stand the negative words used to describe people. Every time I hear them I lose respect for the people who say them.
Such a great post! I think you’re totally right sometimes, we need that kick from these kind of PITAs, to get some motivation and energizing.
I just pledged. I think so many use the word without thought to its insidious underpinnings. Thank you for raising awareness.
Thank you so much for taking the pledge!
Devan @ Accustomed Chaos says
Going to RT this Jessica — so glad there is social media now to help increase support, awareness and end such a terrible word
Totally agree, I think so many say it without realizes the stigma it carries.
Barbara @ Footprints in France says
I am still amazed that people still use this word. Bravo for brining awareness to this!
I am too, it seems like a display of such ignorance.
UGH.I hate this. I cringe everytime I hear it and I hear it more than I should. Sometimes I say something, not as often as I should I suppose. Other times I hope my dirty look or my quickly turned heel is enough. It’s not. people need to stop using this word.
Totally agree Krista, the other day a woman at the counter at our pharmacy said it. I was in shock!
My mom was fierce about this very same thing. Growing up in our house we were never allowed to say the R-word, not even to make a joke. To this day I am raising my kids the same. I am glad to see you are raising awareness to this very issue. You are awesome!
Thanks Kate, we were not allowed to say a bad thing about anyone either. The world was not as diverse as it is now when we were growing up but, looking back, my parents did a great job of respecting all people.
Galit Breen says
You? Make things better.
That is all.
(And that is amazing.)
Thanks for this post. I took the pledge. Every year my husband hosts a basketball camp for mentally and physically challenged children. I’m definitely going to have him pledge as well since I know this is something we take seriously in our household.
What a great thing for your husband to do, my daughter participates in many sports for kids with special needs, don’t know what we would do without volunteers like your husband.
This is such a wonderful and important post and is even more testament to your amazing gift for turning something terrible into something beautiful. I am in awe of you. Every. Day.
You are so sweet, thank you for such an amazing compliment.
I pledged, which was pretty easy to do. 🙂
Thank you Mirjam!