Spread the Word to End the Word: A Sibling’s Perspective

From SLN member Katherine Perez:

My younger sister loves music and has lots of rhythm. She’s the first to enter a dance floor and always the last to leave.  As the youngest in my family, Cindy brings tons of laughter with her infectious humor and comfort with her unending love.   Although I’m states away attending graduate school, often feeling the stress of a deadline, Cindy’s phone call reinvigorates me and reminds me what I’m working towards as a student of Disability Studies, an academic discipline that studies disability oppression and challenges popular concepts of “disability.”

When I was younger, I had only vaguely recognized the prejudices in the world against individuals with disabilities.  However, my sense of justice took definitive form one day when Cindy was in high school and came home distraught.  She told me other students had thrown pencils at her and called her “retarded.”  She did not want to return to school the next day.  In that moment, I learned how powerful words could be.  Instead of seeing Cindy the way I saw her, these students objectified her, placing her in a box of preconceived stereotypes.  From that day onward, in my own personal campaign, I set out to correct those around me who use the “r word” even if it lacks the hurtful intent I believe those students had for my sister.  With a quick explanation of how the word has been used to inflict hatred and make those on the receiving end feel inferior, I have never had much resistance.  Even though it can be a slow process to eradicate the use of the word, I believe it is something for which to fight.

That’s why I am so happy that the “R word” Campaign exists and that hundreds of thousands of individuals have already taken their pledge to stop using the word.  By clicking the pledge button and sharing the link, we can give more power to future students like my sister to benefit from words like “inclusion” and “acceptance” rather than being torn down by the “R word.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.r-word.org/.


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2 Responses to Spread the Word to End the Word: A Sibling’s Perspective

  1. Nora Fox Handler says:

    Very nice and I totally agree, thanks.

  2. anne guthrie says:

    Thank you for telling your story Katherine. Things have come a very long way in my lifetime. During my childhood and well beyond tee (M)R word was the accepted way people with disabilities were referred to by everyone. The acceptance of people with disabilities as full citizens in their communities only came to be because of their outspokenness as well as that of advocates and family members like you.