Okay, so I have to be honest with you all. I first became aware of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign (to remove the word “retard(ed)” from people’s everyday vocabulary) only one year ago when a friend of mine brought the campaign to our university.
While I wasn’t aware of the movement, I’ve always been a proponent of its message. I have always HATED the word, and HATED how casually it’s used. But, honestly, this hatred wasn’t because I have a disability; it was because I am a human being. And I believe any human being can, or should, understand why this word can be so damaging to so many people.
In fact, it wasn’t until today, reading Ellen’s post that I was hit–hard–by the reality this effects every single one of us. Physically disabled, intellectually disabled; the word is discriminating in itself, but the hurt caused by the use of this word does not discriminate. Basically, Ellen set up an alert on Twitter for anyone that used or tagged the word “retarded” in their posts. She then replied to each of them explaining how their use of the word could be hurtful and damaging to so many. Please take a minute to view her post. It will amaze you ( or at least I think it will) how many people just don’t get it and how many people are not afraid to make it clear that they don’t care. There were some poeple who, Ellen reported, thought and apologized, but it’s still shocking.
One user in particular really was my reality check. They replied back to Ellen’s message saying something about a “photo wrecker”. Ellen did not know what this meant, so she looked it up on Urban Dictionary. For the record, this was the first I’d heard of the term as well.
According to the site, a “photo wrecker” refers to: “a retarded or disabled person”. The example they used was:
Question: “Who’s the photo wrecker you’re posing with?” Answer: “Oh, that’s Stephen Hawking.”
Absolutely disgusting. That was the point where I lost it today. I sat at my computer and sobbed. Realizing, for the first time, it effects all of us. I cried until I had nothing left, until I realized I could do something about it.
So here I am tonight. Asking each of you, from the bottom of my heart, to do what you can to Change the Conversation. Thank you.