Let's Talk About the R-Word
- By Amanda Ingram
Sometimes when we hear a word that hurts our feelings, we don’t know how to articulate the words to explain why something is offensive, why it hurts, and why it should stop. I’ve been in this situation myself. My emotions can jam up my mind leaving me without words, and worse, the person who used the offensive word claims I am being too sensitive. That simply is not the case. Because of situations like this, I wanted to offer a clear and concise argument that can be used at any time the r-word may appear in your lives.
- First, there are many words in our culture that were created to classify different types of people as “other.” These words are derogatory in connotation, and therefore, cannot truly be used in any proper context. We all know words we are not to say. The r-word is no different. Some people attempt at defending the r-word by stating that it was originally conceived under clinical conditions and therefore, has use. But this is only part true: “When [the words were] originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation,” says R-Word.Org, “however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities.”
- Secondly, Rosa’s Law Bill S. 2781, signed into federal law on October 5, 2010 removes the terms “mental retardation” and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people-first language with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.”
- People-first language makes language a tool, instead of a hindrance, that works for the people, instead of against the people.
- "Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it." - Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics.
So there you have it, friends—a quick reference of talking points when creating a dialogue about the hateful and hurtful r-word. If we all open up this dialogue, then it is not a world far-off that we will be living without the existence of destructive language. Please share to spread the message!
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- Published on March 01, 2016
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