Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What The R Word Means To Me

March 6, 2013

Today is the annual day of awareness about the R word.  "Spread the word to end the word," they say.

The R word...retarded, retard.  I can barely write it.  It hurts!  Let me tell you why.

Here is my beautiful daughter, Lea.
In Paris, Feb. 2013
Lea has Down syndrome.  Down syndrome comes with many challenges, one of which is her cognitive abilities.  Yes, Lea is, medically speaking, retarded.  Actually, even medically speaking, this is no longer the correct term.  It used to just mean slow.  But over the years, people have misused the term and twisted it into something ugly.

Before you argue about this, let me assure you I have heard all of the excuses, the justifications.  "I don't mean YOUR daughter!"  "I would NEVER call Lea that!"  "I don't mean a person, I just mean something is dumb."  "It's not even offensive."  "I won't say it in front of you!"

You are not getting the point.  Of course you won't call Lea the R word!  But using it in any form is hurtful to ME.  Whether or not you are calling my daughter the R word, your use of it is perpetuating a very bad stereotype of her.  You are right about one thing...it is not offensive to Lea.  That is because Lea is forgiving. Lea is kind.  Lea would not be hurt by that word.  But I am.  I AM.  Isn't THAT enough for you to stop saying it?  I may be standing behind you in line at the grocery store.  I may be sitting near you in a restaurant. I may be shopping in your store.  I am not asking you to stop saying the word around me.  I am asking you to stop saying the word.  Period.

You never know who is listening.

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