Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Help Ban the R-Word!

Laura over at 25 Days to Make a Difference is an amazing young woman who continues to inspire those around her. I know she inspires me!! Today, along with the Special Olympics drive to end the use of the R-Word, she is hosting a "Blog Carnival" and you can read more details here. And maybe, you can win a little prize!

As a middle school teacher, I heard kids use lots of words. In fact, I think I may have even learned a few. One thing that I always stressed in my classroom is that words are powerful and therefore they must be chosen carefully. Name-calling and deragatory comments of any kind were simply not allowed. My "nails on the chalkboard" word was the r-word. It cut across race, gender, religion - it wounded everyone. More than that - it made those students with disabilities in my classroom feel excluded, even when it wasn't thrown at them. I worked hard to create a classroom atmosphere in which the differences that everyone had were accepted, where everyone acknowledged their learning difficulties and their strengths. That word, thoughtlessly thrown in anger or jest, threw up a fence each time it was used.

My family and friends also know of my disdain for the word - and yet somehow they think apologizing in advance for their use of the word ("I know you hate this word but that guy is really retarded") makes it OK. IT IS NOT OK!!

It is not OK to use any word that will demean or belittle anyone - and there are lots of those words out there! When we think about the history of some of the phrases and words people use today, many have their roots in prejudice and discrimination. Listing them here would only give them credence in a Google search so I won't - but we all know what they are.

Inspired by Laura, I decided to join in the Blog Carnival and to also take a bit of a risk. While I consider myself a writer, there are certain genre that I just won't touch. I'm changing that here - and below is my first draft of a poem to honor both Laura and the fight to end the use of the r-word:

Threaded carefully together they weave
A tapestry of emotion, of meaning
The smallest of them can evoke weighty feelings:
love, hate, never, always

Thrown about with abandon, carelessly tossed
They strike like hot iron against the skin
The smallest of them can evoke weighty feelings:
loser, bitch, fatty, retard

Words are the weapons of the powerful
Words are the weapons of the weak
Words are weapons
Choose them carefully

1 comment:

Carol W. said...

Wonderful poem. I adore the second line of the second stanza.