There. I said it. *add megaphone* PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO STOP SAYING THE WORD RETARD. *turn off megaphone* Why? They won’t stop because it has been given power. Since I don’t want to “stir the pot”, I’m going to make up a word and a scenario to go along with it. Here goes. All people with brown hair are starting to be called turnble. It’s a made up word, but for this story’s sake, it used to be a derogatory name to people who cleaned toilets for a living; a job no one wants. However, the really super cool, popular kids in the school cafeteria, all with bleached blonde hair I might add, see Linda walking by with her “boring brown hair” and say, “Keep on walking you TURNBLE, no one wants you around”. All the kids who look up to the bleached blonde popular gang ask what a turnble is. Well, once people unearth the old word for people who used to clean toilets, then the cool kids make a connection to the color brown (and nasty toilet connections) and a phenomenon is born.
Now, the kids who want to be seen as cool by the cool kids start calling their brown haired friends turnble. Of course, at first, the word doesn’t have much power. THEN! A parent comes to the school and a child with brown hair was cornered in the hallway after school, called a turnble and two bigger kids pushed the child around and they got hurt. The principal has to send a note home to concerned parents about the incident. Suddenly, the word turnble is TABOO! Saying it can get you in trouble. The kid who got hurt is taunted endlessly and the parents take their story to the media. BAM! All of social media lights up with the word turnble. There’s now a hastag for it, memes are showing up, activist sites are picking up stories of children who were called turnble and how the word needs to be stopped. *SCREECHING SOUND* Now the word has…POWER.
Since the word is now considered cool, everyone is saying it. The brown haired community is fed up and up in arms about the derogatory nature of this word and how brown-haired people shouldn’t be singled out like this because they were born this way. Famous people who purport themselves to be educated start using the word, thinking it makes them look cool.
^^As you can see, it actually makes them look pretty uneducated and boring.
With all the words in the world that you could use to describe brown hair: Caramel, chocolate, mahogany, bronze, woodsy, earth-toned. Well, you get the point. Lots of creative words could be used. However, they want the shock value of saying turnble. People don’t realize how unimaginative they sound, how uneducated they appear when they can’t even express themselves with an expanded vocabulary. However, there are now words that have so much power that if the wrong person says them, they could lose their career and even their LIVES. Yes, some people have started arguments using words considered so derogatory that they can even incite violence. The word was given so much power that it became bigger than its own definition. Just the mention of it can cause violence.
So, I’ve been angry about the word forever. I have two children with Autism and I have my oft-repeated story about my son having a page taped to him that said, “Kick me, I’m a retard”. Sure, I was mad. Furious even! The school said they never saw it so it didn’t happen. Nothing happened other than my child wanting to die and not go back to the school, so it didn’t matter to anyone else…but me. Seriously, I let it boil inside of me for years and I fed into the Stop the R Word! campaigns and wrote about it, shouted it from the highest rooftops and what happened? It gained more power. So, for those out there who tell people they ride the short bus, or where they lost their helmet, or they are a window licker, a retard etc, these sayings and words only have power if I ALLOW THEM TO. Those who choose to use them? They are the ones who need to realize how they look. I am proud of my children and I will now work to not let those words hurt me anymore and see the person who uses them for who they really are…pretty boring and unimaginative. In the meantime, I need to do something about this brown hair of mine for some reason!