My best friend and mother of two recently sent me the a communication from the Special Olympics (http://www.r-word.org/). This is a cause that is near and dear to her heart. I too feel very strongly about eliminating the use of such derogatory words from our vocabulary.
The Special Olympics has started a campaign in order to ‘End the Use of the R-Word.’ The points they made in their pledge were written so eloquently. I decided to sum up the comments for you:
- “…create a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world. ”
- “Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It hurts. Even if you don’t mean it that way.”
- “Did you know that by casually using the word “retard(ed)” to refer to an action as less than ideal you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human – whether you mean to or not? Demeaning any of our fellow human beings by using inappropriate words toward any population negatively impacts all of us.”
There is a danger to us, to our children and to others even in passively using derogatory words or phrases. Whether it is done in an outright hurtful manner or casually in jest, the comments may be interpreted as truths. Your children look up to you and look to you as a source of information and truth. It would be awful to have your child miss out on the unique-ness of each individual by going in with a pre-existing set of words to describe someone. “Our language frames how we think about others.”
On this ‘teachable moment Tuesday’ please take a moment to examine your conversations and eliminate use of the R-word.
If you would like to take the pledge further: check out http://www.charactersunite.com/#/mission. USA Networks along with the nation’s leading non-profits has put together a pledge, action plan, town hall and an amazing website dedicated to “seeing beyond stereotypes and appreciating each other for the characters we are.”
© 2010 All rights reserved.