Maybe you think it means that someone is acting childish, absurd, irresponsible or that they’re dull and lack personality. Did you nod your head and say yes to any of the questions above? First, I thank you for answering truthfully, but you’ve also proven the point that my intention to Spread the Word to End the Word today is worthwhile.
Take a look at the picture below. Okay, so it’s kind of grainy; that’s 1980s photography for you. But do you see that little girl with the pigtails. Isn’t she cute? What a smile!
So you see, I have a BIG issue with the word RETARD. My sister, though medically classified as such since she has Cerebral Palsy, is not any of those things that you say “Retard” means. She’s not stupid or an idiot. She clearly understands things going on around her, as she laughs at jokes that we assume are over her head, and knows who is on the phone by listening to only one side of the conversation. She has her moments of acting childish, who doesn’t? But she is not absurd, irresponsible and she definitely is not dull or lacking in personality. The girl’s personality reigns supreme!
So today I’m here to change your mind on what you feel is the definition of that R-word. You’re probably doubt that a simple blog post is going to be able to do that, but I’m sure willing to give it a try!
Take a look at this wonderful PSA put together by two beautiful actresses from the TV show, Glee.
I’m also here today to change your attitude towards people with differences through the campaign Spread the Word to End the Word.
What is this Campaign All About?
Answer: Spread the Word to End the Word is an on-going effort to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-Word. The campaign is intended to get schools, communities and organizations to rally and pledge their support to help create communities of inclusion and acceptance for all people. (Source)
So have I changed your mind yet? Here are a couple of ways to take action if so…
3 Easy Ways to Eliminate the R-Word from Your Vocabulary
- Keep the Actual Definition in Mind
Webster defines the word “retard” as to slow down the development or progress of (something). This term is used in medical classifications of individuals with intellectual disabilities, so if you call someone else “a retard” in a manner that is to insult them, you are actually suggesting that having an intellectual disability is something to make fun of or to tease about, which it is not.
- Use the Words That You Mean When Expressing Your Feelings
If you don’t like something, use the proper terms to express your thoughts, such as saying it is “stupid”, “dumb” or “awful” instead of “retarded”. In the same manner, do not say “that’s retarded” when you really mean that something is “lame”, “stupid”, “dumb” or “wrong”.
Also you should never call someone you don’t like “retarded” as the term does not apply. Use words that express the truth about the persons actions or behavior so that you do not risk offending those whom the word “retarded” does apply.
- Avoid Using the Term for People Who Have Intellectual Disabilities
Instead of risking offending the person since the word “retarded” is often used inappropriately, use the term that they are actually classified as, such as they have a “cognitive disability” or an “intellectual disability”. These terms are more socially accepted and are less threatening or offensive to those with these disabilities. (Source)
Not Sure What Else To Say In Place of the R-Word?
- Sound more intelligent expressing what you truly mean, and
- Eliminate the use of the R-Word in a manner that is derogatory and offensive
What To Do If You Hear the R-Word
- Stay calm and collected, it will not help the other person see your point if you are angry or emotional
- Try to understand the reason he/she disagrees with you. Listen, be respectful and then provide a counterargument that highlights the harmful and hurtful effects of using the R-Word.
- Share a personal story about why the R-Word is hurtful to you. Personal stories will help people easily relate to what you are saying because it illustrates your personal commitment to the campaign. (Source)
There are times, situations and personalities sometimes involved that may not be best suited for an immediate intervention when you hear someone use the R-Word. It simply may be best at times to walk away from a situation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do good after walking away. (Source)
Take a Stand and Contact Your Local Government
As of March 2012, there were 15 states to have issued proclamations to remove the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replace them with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability”. However, there are many more who need to be made aware of what an affect these terms can have and how they are being misused in everyday language. Do you feel called to take a stand? Learn more about how to proceed here.
- 5 Things People Don’t Get About the Word “Retard”
- What’s Wrong With ‘Retard’?
- “That’s So Retarded” – Why I Stopped Saying This, and You Should Too
Did you change your mind about the meaning and how you will use the word “Retarded” in the future?
Still looking for a reason? Check out that smile to the left. She doesn’t wear her hair in pigtails any more, but the smile is still the same. And she’s still my hero!
Do it for Kristin!