Hello SOTGC community,
My friend recently reached out to me and asked if SOTGC would highlight a wonderful organization that she has become more involved with recently. After hearing the mission and how this group helps others, I immediately said “Absolutely!!!!” This is for a campaign they are doing in March, but I wanted to launch it early to get everyone ready for this great cause.
Best Buddies is proud to be an organization that partners with the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. Each March we celebrate all that our friends with disabilities can offer by asking our friends, family, coworkers, and communities to pledge to end their everyday use of the “R-word.”
Historically, it’s true that mental retardation was once a diagnosis for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over time, however, society took the word and transformed it into a derogatory slang used to label something or someone as stupid, dumb, or unpleasing. While our society is becoming more aware that the R-word is not an appropriate term to use in reference of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), the term is still used each day. In schools, in the communities, and maybe in our own vocabulary we hear it: “My computer is being so r—–ed” “stop acting so r—–ed.” This type of language is hurtful because of its historical context. Essentially, when one is saying phrases like this, what they are really saying is that the object or person they are referencing is unpleasing, stupid, or inessential to them. This is hurtful language because when we tie it back to history, using language like this is essentially saying that people with disabilities are unpleasing or stupid, which is completely untrue. People with IDD have so much to contribute to society in the abilities, friendships, and jobs. We ask that you pledge to end the use of the R-word in your every day speech and pass it on in your communities.
“Just because we’re different from other people, doesn’t mean they can call us the “R” word. Now we’ll talk about how it makes me feel. I was on the bus, and this person called me “retard,” and it made me feel sad. I started to not believe in myself. Those who supported me told me not to listen to that person because, they explained to me, I’m not that word. And ever since then, I don’t let anyone mess with me. People should stop using the “r” word because it’s not nice, and it makes people feel sad and angry when they hear it. – Sharon Jones, Buddy Ambassador from San Francisco
“The R-word is a harsh word that puts people with all intellectual and developmental disabilities down. It used to be thought upon as a diagnosis for someone with psychical limitations. While the R-word is looked down on, people still use it in everyday communication. It is used often in the same context as the word “gay” was once used. People may not realize that what they are saying is affecting someone who has an intellectual disability. It hurts inside. There are so many other words that can be used. We need to educate people and let them know that that that term is no longer a diagnosis. In 2009 President Obama passed Rosa’s law changing the term mentally retarded to intellectual disability. Please help us support our efforts in ending this derogatory word and pledge to not use the R word: www.r-word.org.” – Sarah Hoffman, Buddy Ambassador from San Francisco.
To be a part of this life changing movement, join Best Buddies California as they walk for inclusion at the annual Best Buddies Friendship Walks in Long Beach and San Francisco: www.bestbuddiescalifornia.org/walk
Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501©3 organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendship, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).