Monday, March 09, 2009


Dang it. I missed this day yesterday. I was going to write something. But for now I will repost this. It still holds true, but I would say the r word offends me more now than it did then.

Originally post March 2009
When I first brought Charlotte home, I was very sensitive to the r-word. I would hear it constantly, especially at work. Every time I heard it I would cringe and clam up a bit, and promise myself next time I would say "oh, like my daughter you mean?" But I never did. And no one ever seemed to realize what they had said. So I decided that I shouldn't be so sensitive, that the r-word didn't refer to my sweet beautiful heaven-sent daughter, but to some dumb situation, and I should let it go. And I have for a long time.
This morning the r-word was mentioned briefly in a staff meeting referring to protected groups and discrimination, and I almost, ALMOST piped up and said "yeah, I for one, find that word offensive." But I didn't.
But I thought about it all day, and got kind of annoyed. I stopped saying "That's gay" years ago once I thought good and hard about it. I don't want to offend anyone who is gay, or has family members who are gay, yet I don't want to offend anyone by asking them to not say "That's retarded?" I have a daughter who under the old jargon, was considered "retarded." That term annoys me, albeit moderately. But I know for a fact that I am on the mild side of this, that many mothers and fathers and siblings of disabled people HATE this term so strongly that they will get in your face if you use it innocently. Only once or twice, and only to close friends, have I pointed out the hurtfulness of this term.
So as a public service announcement, I proclaim the following:
To use the phase "that's retarded" is offensive. I can barely type it without feeling a little sick. I know almost every person who uses this term does so innocently, and doesn't even connect the term with people who are in some way disabled, but that's what it means. It means you think something is stupid, wrong, or my child was?
So cut it out.
I tell you this to let you know how it makes people like me feel. I tell you this because the movement to stop the use of this word is growing, and next time you use this word you may use it in front of someone not so polite and understanding as I am. And who knows, I may stop being so polite.
For myself, and for daughter, and for the millions of others out there like me, like us, I ask you to think before you use the r-word.


Shannon said...

Awesome Erin! I feel the same way about the "R" word as I do about the "N" word. I realize that most people say it out of habit- or just not thinking- but it's good to get the word out so that people know how hurtful it can be.

Amanda said...

Now when someone uses the "r" word in front of you, you can say "I want to say something to you, but for time's sake, please read my blog." Or better yet, print this blog and keep it with you to give to people when they use that word. I used to use it and have since realized that it offends people. So I am desparately trying to quit.

Marsha said...

I had a horrible habit of saying the "r" word in high school and once I realized how bad it is I have tried to stop. But still, it comes out sometimes. Ahh! I will be better.

Michelle said...

Erin- you make a wonderful point and your blog made me realize just how much I use the "r-word" without really thinking about it, how offensive it really can be, and what it means. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am now more aware than ever and I will certainly rule this word out of my vocabulary. Thanks for giving me something to think about :)

Alison said...

Dear Erin

Just a message to send you love - from the other side of the world.


Shannon said...

By the way- love the new backgound!

Katie said...

I'm a friend of Lincoln's and enjoy reading your blog! I had to comment today because one of my many jobs is working at a youth conference for 8th and 9th graders. One of our workshops during the conference is called Appreciating Diversity and a main portion is discussing the use of saying "that's so gay" or "that's retarded" We eventually lead them to the conclusion that it is NOT okay no matter their reasoning or innocent intent. For a lot of these students, they just don't know that it hurts people, whether they are aware of it or not. One of the saddest comments was a student telling me she didn't realize it was wrong because her teacher uses the phrase all the time. I even find myself busting out the Appreciating Diversity talk with friends when they use one of these phrases. So to sum it all up...I like this post a lot, and I'm with you on making people aware!

Katie said... it okay if I link this post to my blog?

Becky said...

AMEN! Thanks for speaking up about something that is wrong.

Anonymous said...

I agree entirely. People may want to reconsider using the word "dumb" as well.

Susie said...

Very well said. Thanks for the sensitivity training, and for sparing anyone who learned something by reading this from a harsher rebuke.
In my meandering dreams the night before last there was a family gathering and all of a sudden untethered by oxygen tubes, Charlotte came skipping into the room. I turned to everyone around me and cried, "hey! Look at Charlotte!". That was about it. . . but it was so sweet!
Much love,

The Jensens said...

AMEN!! I have a son with Dravet Syndrome with delays and seizures and have had close friends and family use this term acutally speaking of special needs people. Needless to say I made sure they will never say it again. Bravo for your post!!