I’ve never thought it was okay to say the word “retarded” in a derogatory way.  It bothered my long before I was ever holding Evelyn in my arms.  But now it carries an extra little kick to my heart.  It shocks me to hear/see so many of my friends casually throwing this word around.

I’m making this personal.  Evelyn has an intellectual disability.  When you use the word “retard” or “retarded” in a derogatory way, you further exclude her.  You tell her, you tell me, that she is not accepted.  The word has become a description for negativity.  A description for something flawed.   It is a hateful word.  You spread hate.  You hurt my Evelyn.  You hurt me.  You hurt your children.  You hurt our beautiful world and all of the beautiful people in it.

I hear people say things like, “you’re being overly sensitive” or “people are too PC” when they are called on the carpet for using this slur.  What does that even mean?  Too sensitive?  Too PC?  How can we associate attempts not to offend other human beings with negativity?  If you would rather hurt my child than stop using “retard” that is certainly your right.  But your attempt to pass it off as some sort of stand is a miserable failure.

Why should our desire to use a word be stronger than our humanity?  Is our vocabulary really so limited that we just can’t drop a word from it?  A word that hurts and some of the most vulnerable members of our world?  A word that deeply hurts me.  My family.  My beautiful daughter.

2 thoughts on “Retard

  1. I completely agree. I was sitting on the rug in my classroom last week, and one of my students who has struggled to become a reader was crouched next to me. The other students were working on their math, but she wanted a book to take to lunch with her, so I asked her to read the first few sentences of the story to see if she could handle the level. As I sat with her, she decoded words and read more fluently than I have ever seen her do before. She misread a word at one point and pronounced it, “tard,” instead of “teared.” I held my breathe waiting for her to laugh or some other kid in the vicinity to say something rude and disrespectful. It makes me angry when these things happen. Instead, she looked at me, I said the word, and she moved on…without even thinking of what other connotations that word might have. I have to say that I hear a lot of very horrible words around my school…words that certainly should not be used around little ears. BUT, what I’ve also noticed is that there has been a marked change in the use of words like “tard,” “retard,” “stupid,” and “sped.” As much as there may be some adults who use these words freely, it is my observation that our youth are not using it as frequently (if at all). Kids can even recognize how horrible and hurtful these words are. I don’t know if it’s everywhere, because I can only speak for my own situation, but I do see a bright future ahead if our young students today grow up to be more respectful than their parents and grandparents.

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