The “R” Word

Recently, I was browsing through a local Facebook group page and saw where someone was complaining about the parking situation at a restaurant. This person was talking about the designers of the parking lot and used the word “retarded” to describe them along with “stupid” and “dumb”.

She was obviously very upset about the parking because #firstworldproblems.

Everything in me cringed when reading this, as it does anytime I hear someone use the word “retarded”.

In our world that is so concerned about being politically correct about EVERYTHING, it blows my mind that people still use this word on a daily basis.

FACT: The word “retarded”, while frequently used in the past to describe someone with intellectual disabilities, is an offensive word that should never be used in any situation.

When the terms “Mental Retardation” or Mentally Retarded” were first introduced, they were medical terms. Along the way, “retard” and “retarded” were turned into ways to insult people with intellectual disabilities  as well as being used as synonyns for “dumb” or “stupid”. “This is offensive and only reinforces painful sterotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.” from: www.r-word.org 

I’ll admit that I may be a little more sensitive when I hear this word because of my previous job at an agency that assisted individuals with disabilities in finding employment in their community.

Side note: If you aren’t familiar with supported employment, go learn more about it at http://www.standup-inc.com (shout out to Stand Up- my former employer!).

For such a long time, individuals with disabilities have been told they can’t work, despite the fact that they CAN work and WANT to work.

This is absolutely ridiculous.

I could tell you about the guy who has autism but was determined to live independently. He works two jobs AND lives with his best friend (who also has autism) in their own apartment!

Or I could tell you about the lady who so badly wanted to work despite the fact that all of the people in her life told her she wouldn’t be able to keep a job. She not only found a job but an employer that set up the perfect position for her to be successful. When she got her first paycheck, she cried.

I could go on and on and on and on, but I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

I understand that not everyone has had the privilege of knowing someone with a disability and may not be aware of what is appropriate to say or not to say so here’s a quick tutorial.

Retarded or Disabled:never okay to say.

A person should never be defined by their disability. You may know someone that has a disability but describing them as “the disabled boy” is assigning them a label that doesn’t 100% describe them.

That boy may be extremely smart, really funny,  so very kind, or have other qualities that they’d prefer people to know about them.

So instead of saying “the disabled”say “people with disabilities”.

Instead of “the autistic kid” say “a child with autism”.

Instead of say “that’s retarded” say nothing at all. 🙂

Yesterday Bob and I went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor the Mister Roger’s documentary. First of all, I HIGHLY recommend it. Growing up, Mister Roger’s was a big part of my life. While watching this documentary I was reminded how sweet and pure his show was and how much of an impact he really made on children throughout his life. He valued the importance of looking people in the eye, allowing them to share their thoughts and actually hearing what they said.

One of my favorite clips from the movie gave a little behind the scenes of this particular episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BZlyxS37Kk . It was absolutely beautiful and brought me to tears!

Life is hard. There is so much negativity out there, some of it is unavoidable and some of it is completely unnecessary. We should be doing what we can to eliminate the unnecessary negativity.

Be kind.  Worry less. Breathe. Don’t be so hard on your self. Don’t be so hard on other people. Assume the best in everyone. Be generous with your time.  Slow down. Love others. 

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By the way, the lady calling the parking lot designer “retarded” clearly doesn’t realize there are, in fact, many individuals with disabilities that would be able to design a freaking amazing parking lot and so much more. Don’t ever doubt that.

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