The R- Word and other Unacceptable Words

26 May

A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine was telling a small group of us a story about a horrible day she had while working at the Waffle House.  While telling the story she made fun of a woman she worked with and used the R-word.  She referred to the woman, who could not even pronounce waffle, as a “retard.”  I must confess my jaw dropped with disgust, as did the jaws of the small group of friends I was with at the time.  Having taught kids with special needs for several years, I was so personally offended by her story.  Here is where I wish I had had more patience, but rather I just stopped listening to her and walked away–not very generous of me.

My friend Shawn shared a video with me, actually a PSA done by the amazing out lesbian Jane Lynch.  The PSA does a tremendous job of sending the message that we all need to engage in stopping discrimination.  I look back now and realize I should have stopped the woman telling her story about the Waffle House and I should have kindly let her know how inappropriate her story was, rather than walking away and dismissing her. Click here to see the PSA.

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4 Responses to “The R- Word and other Unacceptable Words”

  1. Jennifer Lockett May 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I know so many *good* people – adults, children, in-between – who truly don’t realize the power that their words have. I hope that these type of educational resources will ultimately be successful in showing good people how they can do better.

  2. jenny May 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    i was very pleased with this commercial and especially happy that it aired while i was watching the telly with my daughters. we saw it during an episode of glee–we are big glee fans, and they really like the character “becky.” my girls hear people call each other “retard” all the time and they will say, “that’s not a nice word,” but i don’t think it was ever real to them until they saw someone they are familiar with applying it to herself. kudos to jane and lauren potter, the actress who plays becky.

    in the late ’80’s, my very first job was as a teacher’s aide with mentally and physically challenged children. back then we referred to the children as “retarded”–not in a mean way, the class was the MMR class–Mild to Moderate Retardation. now, everytime i hear some snarky teenaged boy call his buddy a retard or refer to his mistakes as retarded, i cringe. using that word was part of my job. i’m so glad they changed it. my daughter, mairi, volunteers weekly in the class at her school called MHC–Multiple Handicap Class. she loves it.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Jenny, thank you for commenting! What a very moving comment and I hope you know the impact your voice has here, as we all work to make the world a better place.

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