We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Friday, February 4, 2011

THAT word again...

It never fails to sting. Like a petulant bee, refusing to move onto other sweeter things... like putting my winter-frozen foot into a hot bath... When I hear the word, it is as if the world dissapears, morphed into a hazy background. There is only one loud, big, slap-you-in-the-face word... retard.

I gulp. Blink. Divert my eyes. Should I say something? Explain how they are using my son's disability as an adjective. Do they care? Or am I just wasting my breath?

People may argue, they may try to explain it away, that it doesn't mean anything, it's just a joke, it's not meant to harm... but I know. I know because I myself used the word, before my son was born. And I can tell you, it was never used in a positive light. I used it as a way to describe something that was 'less than', something that didn't quite measure up, something that was stupid.

I feel sick when I remember how I used to throw the word around - I often remember how casually I let it roll from my tongue. I'll remember one time or another, when I used the word... while I'm making coffee, or while I'm running a bath. While I'm cooking or while I'm looking in my son's eyes...

I can never take that away. I can never sit from a lofty height and preach to others. But I can stand solidly on the earth and say that I was there - I know what using that word is all about... And it's not good.

It's disrespectful. It's hurtful. It's hateful. 

I know this.

Do you?

Will you help me to spread the word to end the word?

If you're still not sure, read this... it might convince you.

The People Who are the R-Word
(by David Hingsburger)

The people who ‘ARE’ what the ‘R’ word refers to have a long history.

They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.

They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.

They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.

They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.

They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.

They are the group most likely to be bullied, most likely to be tyrannized, most likely to be the target of taunts.

They are the least likely to have their hurt taken seriously, physical hurt, emotional hurt, spiritual hurt.

They are most likely to be ignored when they speak of pain, have their words diminished by an assumption of diminished capacity.

They are the least likely to ever be seen as equal, as equivalent and entirely whole.

They are the victim of some of the most widespread and pervasive prejudices imaginable.

They are those that the Nazi’s thought unworthy of life, they are those targeted by geneticists for non-existence, they need fear those who wear black hats and those who wear white coats.

They are educated only under protest, they are included as a concession rather than a right, they are neighbours only because petitions failed to keep them out.

They are kept from the leadership of their own movement, they are ignored by the media, their stories are told to glorify Gods that they do not worship.

That they are a ‘people’ is questioned even though they have a unique history, a unique voice, a unique perception of the world.

That they are a ‘community’ is questioned even though they have commonality, they have mutual goals, they have a collective vision of the future.

That they are have a legitimate place at the table is questioned simply because no one’s ever offered a seat.

They are a people.

They ask for respect and receive pity.

They ask for fair play and are offered charity.

They ask for justice and wipe spittle off their face.

They ask to silence words that brutalize them and their concerns are trivialized.

They ask to walk safely through their communities and yet bullies go unpunished.

They ask to participate fully and they are denied access and accommodation and acceptance.

And this is NOW.

This is the people who have walked the land of the long corridor, who have waited at the frontier of our bias to finally be here, now. They have survived. They have come home. They have continued, silently and without fanfare, to take hold of freedom and live with dignity. They have given everything they have for what others take for granted. Their civil liberties are perceived as ‘gifts’ as ‘tokens’ and as ‘charity’. Their rights are seen as privileges. Their movement is, as of yet, unacknowledged. They are a people recently emancipated, new citizens, who are tentatively discovering their voice.

It is a voice not yet heard.

It is a voice not yet respected.

It is a voice not yet understood.

But it is speaking.

And when it is finally heard. The world will change.

The ‘R’ word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.


Lianna said...

That is one of Dave Hingburger's most provocative and eloquent posts ever, IMO.

I remember when my SIL remarked that she didn't take it personally when coworkers and friends said the R-word. She said it didn't mean anything. Eventually, she has come to understand how the roots of the word keep those walls of intolerance, segregation, prejudice and ignorance thick and strong.

I am looking forward to this year's campaign to end the R-word! We're making progress -- this I believe!

rememberwhenwewereyoung said...

I love reading your blog. You write with some empathy and passion...I had a lump in my throat reading this specific post. Malakai is absolutely gorgeous and so is little Harlan!

Deqlan said...

Im with you Loren and will always be