It happened just last week.
“It’s so retarded.”
I stood there stunned for a moment. It went down like sour milk. My chest got heavy, I lowered my head and mumbled, “yeah”.
I don’t even know what we were talking about it, but she said it and I didn’t say anything back. Seven years! Seven years, I have known how derogatory, dehumanizing and how hurtful the r-word is and there are times when I still can’t gather my thoughts enough to call someone out for saying it. I can fight for my daughter in the Premier’s office but I can’t call out someone for saying the r-word. I am so ashamed.
Because the thing is, is that this person probably didn’t know. They know Ella. I think that she cares for her but she just had no idea. Friends, that is what this day is all about. Now you know.
I know you think it is harmless. I know you think that you aren’t talking about Ella. I know that it isn’t personal. But what you are saying is that it isn’t personal to you, but it’s personal to a lot of people (yes, I just stole that from Meg Ryan). You wouldn’t call me a chink, I wouldn’t call you a nigger, so please don’t use the word retarded. When you use the r-word all you are doing is perpetuating the stigma associated with developmental disabilities. Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and their friends. When you use the R-word you are:
– dehumanizing individuals with intellectual disabilities
– perpetuating the stigma and negative stereotypes that face people with intellectual disabilities
– making it harder and harder for individuals with intellectual disabilities to find work, to have opportunities, to experience life to its fullest.
– you are hurting people like Ella.
So please. Whether you think it’s not personal or not, please just don’t use the R-word and don’t let others use it. Because the reality is, is that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of enjoying and sharing life experiences just. like. you. Take the pledge today. Like, share and let’s work together to make this world a better place, shall we?