The R-Word

 

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“You’re retarded.” It’s a phrase I hear at the park, standing in line at the grocery store, written on Facebook posts, and out of the mouths of children and adults alike. Though there I stand with my child with special needs, this black smut spews forth. And I wish it didn’t.

Maybe you meant it, or maybe you didn’t. Maybe it’s just so sadly ingrained in our societal vocabulary that you didn’t even hear yourself say it. But you said it. And it hurts.

When you say “You’re retarded,” do you mean someone who takes nothing for granted and works hard for everything they get? Someone who is so pure that they have no context with which to comprehend using someone else’ challenges as an insult or the butt of a joke? Someone who is sweet and perfect and wonderful, and everything I esteem to be? Someone who I love more than life itself? If that’s who you’re referring to, then thank you for your choice of words that draws my attention to you. So that I can tell you this: Your use of the word “retarded” is not okay. Whether you meant it or not, it’s offensive. It’s also derogatory, hurtful, and discriminatory. So stop using it, and start showing respect for people who patiently conquer more in this life than most of us, and who are worthy of our every respect. ©

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