I’m ashamed to say I’d nearly given up since then. I know people, on more than just an acquaintance level, who say “retard” all the time. I tried with a few, but they just don’t change. They promise they won’t say it, but then they do. I feel embarrassed that I’ve given up because every time they say the word, I cringe. I cringe and I don’t understand why they use it. I cringe and hate myself because I feel like I’m letting Karan down by keeping quiet.
I said a lot last year about how it hurts. But this video from Love That Max says a lot more. I did shed a few tears when I saw this, because instead of Max, I kept seeing my brother, Karan.
Over a year ago, I’d written something to submit as part of my portfolio for my Master’s degree. Here’s a short excerpt (read the entire piece here):
Too often people use disabilities as an abusive way of insulting the so-called normal human beings. A few years ago, my family and I were in a restaurant, my then 4-year-old autistic brother started crying and refused to calm down. A patron sitting at the next table looked over and said very loudly: “What’s wrong with these people? If they have retarded children, they should keep them at home.” Then we were asked to leave the restaurant by the management because ‘the other diners were getting disturbed’. It hurt. It hurt because my brother is not retarded. He, like thousands of other people has an autistic spectrum disorder. It also hurt because it was acceptable then (and still is) to insult someone by way of calling them ‘retarded’ and prevent them from experiencing a routine aspect of life. It’s absolutely abhorrent when one hears the word ‘retarded’ being thrown around as if it were commonplace even in classrooms in secondary schools.
Last night I saw this tweet from Ellen Seidman (or @LoveThatMax as she’s known on Twitter):
Twit friends: For next week I’m tweeting at people who use “retard” as a hashtag—and asking them to take this pledge http://www.r-word.org
I had a look at their website and signed the pledge, and plan to spread the word as well. It just drives home the point that I was trying to make a long time ago: the r-word, or “retard(ed)” just hurts. It’s incorrect, offensive and derogatory.