The Impact of the "R" Word
Hi everyone! I hope you all are well and had a great week. This week I am writing about a topic that is very sensitive and close to my heart as a sibling to someone with special needs. If you are going to read any of my posts whether you are a sibling, family member, loved one, friend, or just someone passing by, please I ask you read what I have to say about this.
The word "retard", or as I will refer to it the R word, is used as an insult or a joke in everyday language. People use this term as an insult to refer to someone acting in an irritating or stupid way. People think it is funny and a joke, but using this word is anything but a joke.
In its origin in 1961, "mental retardation" or "retardation" was used as a medical term for someone with intellectual disabilities. This purely medical term was turned into an insult and offensive joke. I do not think people realize how offensive and derogative the term is. I hear it constantly in everyday life, but I truly believe that people are just purely not educated on the meaning behind this everyday insult.
The R word unknowingly causes a great amount of pain in special needs and intellectual disability community. The word alienates and excludes people with disabilities even more from society. The R word takes someones legitimate disability and turns it into a joke, and this is not ok. People with disabilities feel detached and unaccepted by a lot of society because they are not society's so called "standard," and the R word perpetuates these feelings and make the gap even larger.
The R word turns a real disability into just being dumb or stupid, and it makes people feel as though the only characteristic of having a mental handicap is being stupid. Any language that can cause bad feelings or pain to another person should not be used, therefore the R word should not be a word in everyday vocabulary.
As someone who has a sister who has special needs, anytime I hear this word it physically hurts. It feels as though that my sister's disability that has caused so much in my family's life is being pushed aside as being stupid or a joke. As I will repeat, the R word is not ok to use in language.
The term "mental retardation" has been recognized now as an offensive or outdated term in the medical community because of insult the masses have turned it into. While President Obama was in office, he passed a law called "Rosa's Law" that changed the term "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability" within the United States of America. This was a large step into ending this word, but if the R word is recognized to be offensive, why are masses of people still using it?
In my eyes, it is a lack of education. People do not understand the impact or derogative meaning behind it. After reading this post, if you hear someone say the R word, take the time to educate them on the impact it has. I have been doing this for many years now, and trust me saying something is better than not saying something. If you want a guide of what to say, I usually say something around the lines of "Hey, you really should not say that word. I have a sister of special needs and it is a very negative term towards the special needs community." Saying something as simple as these 2 sentences can truly impact someone and the way they will continue on using the R word. Make people stop and think. Make them question how they impact others. I want to make sure people understand, if you have said this word in the past without knowing the meaning, you are not a bad person. Make the change and lets end the use of this term.
Thank you for reading. Spread love and kindness everyday. Much love to all of you.
Pledge to not say the R word (no cost!): https://www.spreadtheword.global/why-pledge