By Kodey Toney
March 5th is the annual day of awareness to help “Spread the Word to End the Word”. The “r” word that is. Ok, I hate saying it, but for some of you who are wondering I’m talking about the word retarded, or retard. That being said, as I seem to always be late to the party, mostly because I’m a procrastinator, the Pervasive Parenting Center will host its own Ban the "R" Word day for our area on Thursday, March 24.
This time we have a legitimate reason to be late though, we have been working with local schools, community leaders, clubs, and organizations to create four videos showing support against the use of the “R” word. We ask that people go onto social media cites and share the videos with everyone you can, wear your "R" word shirts if you have them, and if you don't have one just wear red to show your support. Most importantly refrain from using the word and please encourage others to use a different word as well.
I’d like to include an excerpt from a past column to help explain my stance on the use of the word:
These are words just like slurs of yore that were used in a derogatory way to describe African Americans, Mexican Americans, Italian Americans, and other groups throughout history.
The sound of it sends rage, sadness, and tears through the individuals with disabilities that talk about it on several videos I researched for this project. Nobody should be made to feel this way, especially not with words that first of all are used with the wrong meaning, and second are unnecessary in any way.
Working at a college it’s not uncommon for me to hear someone say, “That’s retarded” as I walk across campus. It’s become a familiar phrase in American speech. Calling someone else retarded is commonplace with most of our younger generations. People spit it out without thinking about the negative connotations associated with it. It has even been used in the past to clinically describe people with mental illness.
However, no matter how it’s used it should be found to be offensive.
The sad part is when the adults are the ones actually using the word and don’t even realize they are hurting anyone’s feelings. In fact, there are times when it is used because it has been accepted for so long to actually describe a disability.
I often hear people talk about the world being too politically correct. That’s not the problem though. As I always tend to tell people, I call it humanely correct. What we are trying to do in this society, or should be as parents, is fight for equal rights. It is a civil-rights issue. With the rapidly increasing diagnosis of children with autism the issue of rights is going to grow.
You can view the videos on the Pervasive Parenting Center Facebook page, or on Youtube by searching “Pervasive Parenting Ban the ‘R’ Word”.
R-word.org has some great information, so I recommend checking it out. Read old articles at http://pervasiveparenting.blogspot.com/.
Thanks to Scotty Morrison, Jay Falkner, Jennifer Humphreys and Carl Albert State College’s Scholars Program, Tanna Weaver and the Poteau Special Olympics, Barbara Leonard and Gore Schools, B.J. Barnes and the Poteau Fire Department, LeFlore County Roller Derby, LeFlore County Sheriff’s Department, CASC Police Department, Heavener School’s Drama Department, Hillbilly Vegas, Panama High School FCCLA, and anybody else that I forgot that helped out with the projects.
Please spread the word to end the word!