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Do You Use The R-Word?

So several weeks ago I saw this video of two young ladies dancing. In the caption it had the phrase "when they say I'm retarded for going back to him." Now, I don't normally use the R-Word, but needed to indicate what was listed so you can have background information. Moving forward, I will refer to the term as the R-Word. Now back to the story. In the video, the girls did a dance that I guess was supposed to portray a person with a mental disability. They moved their arms and legs as if to make them look deformed, basically while dancing. Now, some people thought it was funny and some spoke out against it, which is great. As a young adult who is serious about success, I hope that you are open to considering the factors and language that are harmful to others. So for those who are unaware, I'm going to share with you a few reasons why that video was inappropriate, ignorant and hurtful, among other things.

First, they used the R-Word as synonymous with stupid or foolish. The list could go on. People who are diagnosed with a mental disability simply learn and operate in ways that are different. To equate a term associated with a person with a mental disability to the fact that you go back to someone who cheated on you, is saying that being diagnosed with a mental disability is the same as being just plain dumb. That's not true.

Second, it reinforces stereotypes about those with mental disabilities. Several people with mental disabilities are fully functioning people and deserve respect rather than the assumption that they can't function because of their diagnosis. There are so many great things people with mental disabilities are doing and people are not aware of it because they lump them into a category and assume they can't do anything. Does a mental diagnosis affect some things they can do. Absolutely, but it just means they do things differently.

Last, it's just plain ignorant. You're using a population of people to make a point, and that's just not ok. Your ignorance is showing. So, now that we've pointed out the issue, let's discuss how to work on this. Expand your vocabulary. Instead of stereotyping an entire population of people to express yourself, invest in a dictionary to help you articulate your point. Get to know people who are differently abled than you. This will help you learn about ability status outside of the bubble you live in. Life extends beyond your experiences and to best interact with others, it's good to be aware of how people who are different from you, move through life. It will also give you an appreciation for difference. Do your own research. If you don't know something about an identity, use the plethora of resources available (i.e. library, scholarly articles, google) to do your own research.

Now that you know better, do better. As a young adult aiming for success, I challenge you to stand up against harmful material such as what was presented in the video described above.

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