National R-Word Day: putting a stop to derogatory language

March 5 is National R-Word Awareness Day. 

For the unaware, the R-word is the term ‘retard(ed)’. 

National R-Word Awareness Day is a day dedicated to realizing the significance of the R-word and to stop the spread of it. In a sense, it is an event to spread the word, to stop the R-word.

Take some time to think about what you’re saying− even though one might not mean to offend somebody with some off-the-cuff humor, words can cause pain. The purpose of the event and the movement is to demonstrate that using the R-word causes people harm.

Here’s an example. According to Joseph Franklin Stephens, “Special Olympics Virginia athlete and Global Messenger. “It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the “In” group. We are someone that is not your kind. I want you to know that it hurts to be left out here, alone.” 

R-Word Awareness Day is sponsored by the Special Olympics, Best Buddies and 200 other organizations, including the Michigan Alliance for Special Education.

It’s good to see so many organizations backing the spread of a positive message to stop a negative action.

The entire concept of the movement points out a flaw in our society as a whole. Our sensitivity about what we say and how we communicate is so diminished that we need to develop special days and campaigns for our language.

Although it reveals some skeletons in our closet about society, on the bright side, it shows we are also improving. We’re slowly becoming more and more aware of what we’re doing and saying. And we’re making a difference.

National R-Word Day has prompted Michigan legislature to review their legislature.

According to Rochester Patch, proposals to remove the R-Word from state legislation will begin March 5.

This is a huge step forward. The word was removed federally in 2010, but Michigan is still one of only a few states left which still uses the R-word in legislation.

However, did we really need to make a special day just to make a difference?

This concept doesn’t and shouldn’t only apply to the R-word. This concept applies to every  derogatory term we use in our everyday speech. 

If everyone would stop and think before they spoke, this entire movement would be unnecessary.

Take a second to think about what you’re saying. And who it hurts.