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Molly Hargon


Expos 2

26 March 2017

The R Word

This is retarded. What a retard. I'm sure you have heard it before everyone says it,

right? Its a normal phrase that describes someone who is unintelligent and slow, but why would

we make fun of a person who struggles with enough difficulties already? This word, the R

word, is discriminatory towards the handicap and special needs community, and places another

level of adversity upon them. People do mentally suffer from retardation, so is using this

derogatory term to describe a person who does suffer from those disabilities morally okay?

If only people really knew what a retarded child can do for their friends and family and

how using the R word can be offensive to them. When I was growing up there was a little boy

born with special needs who lived down the street. Our moms were friends and they shared their

babys joys together. I started to develop, and learn the ways of the world, such as walking and

talking, and this little boy didnt. His mother had asked my mom why her little boy wasnt

advancing the way the other kids were. Her son was then diagnosed with retardation, and had to

attend a special school. As I grew older, I realized the joy he had brought to their family. He

brought their family together through love. He was pure, he didnt put others down, he didnt

brag, he wasnt selfish, and he didnt even see that he had problems. Instead he light a the room,

he was always grateful, and he lived for others. Now, why should we continue using a word to

describe our peers, if it just continues to put down those who suffer with retardation everyday?
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Instead of discouraging and putting these people down I think we should glorify them and praise

them, for the amazing human beings that they are. They deserve to be treated with extra respect

and kindness because of all the disadvantages that they already face. Havent they gone through

enough already? Its time to show some respect.

David Brooks, an American conservative political and cultural commentator and writer

for the New York Times says, The basic problem is that schools praise diversity but have

become culturally homogeneous. (Brooks) Also Students who dont fit the ethos get left out

(Brooks). These kids who suffer from down syndrome do not fit the mold that society has set to

be normal and they are punished for it. These special needs students are the ridicule in the

everyday classroom because of the disability. Does that seem right to you? Punish someone for

what is placed upon them. The R word is being thrown around left and right just because

someone is mimicking an action of the special needs. That does not seem fair to me to constantly

make fun of someone that suffers everyday with a disability that they are born with. This ridicule

needs to come to an end and we need to show some respect for the special needs community.

This demeaning phrase is just the same as someone hearing something about them being

used as an insult. Now how would you feel if you were the special needs child that overhear

someone saying to one of their friends, Dont be a retard. or Thats so retarded. dont you

think you would hit home? Picture this: Your whole life you have been labeled with mental

retardation and now someone is using your illness as an insult to another person.

The R word is used as a demeaning term needs to be completely eliminated from our

everyday language and only used as a medical term and not for discrimination. There are plenty

of other words that you could use to describe a situation. For instance you could say, That's
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ridiculous., You're not thinking the way I think., or even just thats silly., or that's

foolish.. Maybe people should start to broaden their vocabulary to more words that wouldnt

have the potential of being offensive. They should take into consideration peoples feelings.

Society, says you must comply with the norm (Butler), but once you fall out of what is

normal you face judgment. Our society then punishes those who are different or dont follow

these norms, either by humiliation or derogatory terms. The R word falls under the same

category as the N word and should be treated equally as bad. Ashanti Young, a professor of

African American studies and author, believes that , When [he fails] to meet the class, gender,

and racial notions that others ascribe to [him], [he is] punished (Young). Instead of someone

being punished for being himself, shouldnt we praise and accept that? Shouldnt we thrive for

more diversity? And not constantly put down our peers. This a never ending cycle and it only

takes one person to stand up and end it. We need to take to heart what is being preached in the

school system: Accepting others., and live by it.

It all comes down to look before you leap. Or in this case, dont speak without first

considering the possible ridicule or effect it could have on one person. I am looking for a change,

so let's not keep relying on someone else to do it, we need to take it into our own hands. The R

word needs to be treated the same way the N word is treated, with zero tolerance. When you

hear your peer use it in an offensive way, call them out, teach them that it is not okay. Teach

your friends to be considerate, and that using the R word offends a whole community of

people. This is a step toward acceptance for all and is the change our society needs.
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Word Count: 818

Works Cited

1. Brooks, David. Honor Code. New York Times 6 July 2012, New York ed.: A23. Print.

2. Butler, Judith. phylosophe. YouTube. 23 Feb. 2007. Web. 8 Sept. 2012.

3. Young, Vershawn Ashanti. Prelude: The Barbershop. Preface. Your Average Nigga:

Performing Race, Literacy, and Masculinity. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2007. xi-xvi.