As a mother I want to protect my children from all of the hurt and heartache that may come their way in this crazy thing called life, but I know that realistically I can't shield them and make everything look like roses and rainbows forever.
There has been a lot of buzz going around in the Down syndrome community lately about people using disability slurs and how hurtful it is to our children, to my Sophia. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am as guilty as anyone else for using the words retard/retarded before I had Sophia. Am I proud of that? Absolutely not. Did I understand how hurtful and disrespectful that word is to so many individuals and the people that love them? No way! But now I know how every time I hear that word, no matter what context it is used, my heart feels like it has just stopped beating, and for that very reason, I feel like it is my responsibility to let other people know that it's not okay to use that word. EVER! I had no idea what that word carried with it before Sophia was born, and I never had anyone call me out or explain to me how wrong and hurtful that word is to so many people, so I never thought twice about using it. I know so many people, some of them my closest family and friends, that have used that word in front of me, even after Sophia was born, not even realizing what they were saying and how inside my heart was breaking just hearing them say it. They didn't know. They have never been called out, or explained to how hurtful that word is, and so they just don't even think twice about using it. You can't really blame someone for doing something or saying something when they just aren't educated on the subject. I don't get mad when I hear the word, unless it's used in pure malice, but no matter who says it or why they are saying it, I immediately think of my sweet Sophia and cry inside for the stupidity that she is most likely going to have to live with during her lifetime.
I am usually more understanding when I hear some random Joe off the street saying something which is totally politically incorrect. Maybe he doesn't know anyone with special needs? Maybe he's never been informed or educated on how hurtful his words are to me and my daughter and thousands of others? But when magazines and newspapers, television and movies start writing or saying politically incorrect statements, slurs, then I have a MAJOR problem with that. Thousands, even millions of people read these magazines and newspapers. Thousands and millions are also watching these television shows and movies. These people who are putting this stuff out for millions to read and hear, need to have their sh*t together, period. Because all of these people who are already uneducated about how hurtful and disrespectful it is to use the words, retard/retarded, have now seen it printed, or said on the big screen by their favorite actress or actor and they think, "well if they are putting stuff like this for millions of people to read and see, then it must be okay." NO. IT. ISN'T!
This post started because of a few articles that I have come across through the Down syndrome community recently and it just isn't okay. First it started about a month or so ago with GQ writing an article about "40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America" list. GQ wrote, "Boston is like America's Bad-Taste Storm Sewer: all the worst fashion ideas from across the country flow there, stagnate and putrefy." The Web site then delivers: "Due to so much local in-breeding, Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome." REALLY? There were a lot of Mama Bears who made their voices heard, and I hear that privately they received apologies for what was said, but what about all those other people out there that read that? So now they continue to think that it's okay to make jabs at my daughter, and so many other innocent individuals, who may not be able to stand up for themselves and take a stand against idiots like this! Now I am hearing about a new movie that is out, The Change Up, with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman. Apparently there is a scene in the beginning of the movie, Ryan Reynolds who plays a bachelor who has never settled down, visits his long-time friend Jason Bateman; he sees his twins in their high chairs and says, "why aren't they talking? - what are they retarded?" As if that isn't hurtful enough, but then the movie takes it one step further and his character says, "And this one, he looks Downsy." WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WRITING THIS CRAP?!?!?!? I mean seriously, does not one single person involved in this movie have someone that they love dearly that has an intellectual disability? And not one single person is going to stand up and say, "hey, I think this is taking it a little too far?" It makes me sick to think that highly educated people are putting stuff like this out into our world for everyone to see and hear. It's not okay. It really is not okay. As a mother, it's hard for me to think that my sweet baby girl is going to have to live in a world where ignorant people are going to think it's okay to laugh at her and to make fun of her and to degrade her as a human being; and as the sweet, loving, innocent person that she is, she will accept them and friend them all the same.
**If you would like to go to the website where I got my information about the GQ article, click HERE. If you would like to go to the website where I got my information about the movie, The Change Up, click HERE. And if you would like to read more about why using the R word is so hurtful to so many people and why people are pledging to stop using the R word, click HERE.