|Buddy Walk 2012. Paige, Garratt and Everleigh all sport an extra chromosome.|
It is 06.03.13. It is spread the word day.
Do you know what this day signifies? Up until almost two years ago, I didn't either. Today is a day to raise awareness for the thousands of people and their families who are hurt, offended, or otherwise affected by the word retard(ed).
I know, I know.
You didn't mean it that way. You weren't talking about my child. I'm hypersensitive. It's just a word. It does mean slow, so you weren't being rude.
Guess what? I'm fully aware of what retard means. I know it's the French word for slow. To hinder or impede. I also know that unless you put a French infliction to it, you are using it in a derogatory way. And I am working daily on finding the courage to speak up to strangers about it.
YOU may not have meant it that way, but other people do. Medical professionals still use mentally retarded to describe Everleigh and people like her. It is slowly being written out of legislation, but it is society that has to change their way of looking at it. If you called a black person a nigger, you would probably get the shit beat out of you, or be taken up for hate speech. The same as you would never call someone who is Jewish a kike, someone who is Asian a chink. So why is calling someone with an intellectual/developmental disability/delay (I/DD) a retard okay?
97% of people with Down syndrome are happy with who they are. They are HAPPY. People with Down syndrome are now holding jobs, living on their own (or in assisted living communities), falling in love, going to school (and graduating)...they are more integrated in today's society than they ever have been before. Our grandparents are living in assisted living communities, are they retarded? I'd sure hope you don't think that way.
I am rambling. The bottom line is this. If you use that word in every day conversation to describe something as stupid, silly, useless, annoying, or any other synonym you can think of, the chances are I will call you out on it. And if I don't, be assured that I'm coming for you. You don't have to care that my daughter has Down syndrome, that she is percieved as different. You don't even have to care that this word bothers me. But you DO have to listen to me tell you how much the word bothers me. Do with it what you will. I know you will give me a sideways glance the next time you use it, to see if I heard you. I did. My ears are on overdrive. We will have a chat about it again. And again. And again. Because as she grows up, I would love to see the world's views shift at least a little bit. Give her a chance to prove herself before you deem her retarded.
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