Sure, the R-word is offensive. It’s hurtful to individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, and friends. That’s reason enough not to say it.
But never mind that it’s offensive. Put aside that it’s hurtful.
The real reason not to use the R-word is because it devalues people, not because of their actions, but because of the way that God made them. When whole segments of people are devalued, they are treated badly. They are abused. They face discrimination. Sometimes, they are killed.
The r-word isn’t funny. It isn’t edgy. It isn’t even original.
But it is dangerous.
I joined the fight to End the R-Word in the fall of 2010. Since then, I’ve run a number of races with my R-word tech shirt. This time last year, I published two posts on the R-word:
And in October, I published one more: The Power of Language.
A friend of mine joined me in the fight, donning her own R-word race shirt and emailing a local community leader after she overheard him use the R-word casually in public.
Mr. Andi spoke at a city council meeting about the End the Word campaign. Since then, co-workers of Mr. Andi have made a conscious decision not to use the R-word.
My sister, a professor at Georgia Highlands college, arranged for me to speak as part of a “Courageous Conversations” series at the college. Communication professors and campus administrators in attendance pledged to End the R-Word.
Last week, communication students at the college sponsored a Spread the Word to End the Word campaign on their campus.
A close family friend bought a Spread the Word to End the Word bracelet and wears it on his wrist daily.
A dear friend of mine – the first person to drop the R-word bomb in my presence after Nathan was born – has stopped using the word, once common in her vernacular.
Jeff Goins, a writer with a large following, was made aware of the R-word campaign and wrote about it on his blog, linking to my posts and others on the subject.
When I updated my Facebook profile pic to the End the Word campaign logo today, several friends followed suit.
Many of you are parents of children with disabilities – you’ve got a dog in this fight, and I appreciate the efforts you’re making. But I know that some of you reading don’t have any skin in the game, and your voices are the ones that need to be heard. The people that need to be educated don’t want to hear from those of us they deem “too sensitive” – they will listen to you.
Join us as we Spread the Word to End the Word.
Nathan’s already started.