Sunday, March 24, 2013

The R Word

Dear Mr. DJ,

 You did a pretty good job this evening. You played a good selection of music and kept the very lively party going for the duration of the evening. While it was a little jarring to go from Pat Green to The Beestie Boys with no bridge, overall I didn't find you overly annoying.

 That being said...

 At one point this evening you were helping the photographer get a series of shots. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of the action was or what the photographers vision was, but it involved the whole crowd watching the groom dance wildly then breaking out in dance as well. Interesting. In the midst of your directing the crowd, you said, "Look at him like he's retarded." Let's think about that for a moment shall we. Really think about what that means. How does one exactly look at someone else like they are retarded. I get what you were going for, society has so ingrained this imagery of what "retarded" looks like that it is an easy word to throw around to get a point across. But it's horrible. I too have used the word flippantly throughout my life, never really thinking about how that can be construed by someone who is mentally disabled or by someone who loves someone with mental disabilities.

 My son has Down syndrome. He may or may not have mental disabilities or delays, more than likely, he does. But when I look at my son, someone who is "retarded", I look at him with love. I look at him with eyes that shine for him. I look at him with a smile that can't be contained inside. I look at him with hope, compassion, and fierce pride. This isn't what you meant. When you said to look at the groom like he was retarded, you meant it negatively and harshly. My heart sunk. Because despite how honored I am to have my son in my life, I fear every day that walking down the street he will be "looked at like he is retarded". My soul cries out with preemptive pain at how many people will judge him and see what he can't do instead of giving him every opportunity he deserves. Your passing comment left more of an impact on my heart with worry of how frequently my son will hear that word thrown around as if it doesn't have meaning beyond the imagery out society has created.

 Be careful with your words. It's a lesson that I myself have learned way later in life than I should have. But a passing comment at a wedding could be deeply hurtful in ways you don't even know. Please show use a different kind of "r" word and show some respect.

 A Mommy

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