Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Too Sensitive?

Browsing through my favorite support forum this morning I read about one mama's feelings in the midst of a bit of drama surrounding the topic of disability slurs.  She was hurt that a Facebook "friend" berated her and then unfriended her for expressing her feelings.  And it was about use of the "R" word and some derogatory jokes about Ds in a new movie and in general usage.  She was accused of being too sensitive and was told that she was "just grieving" about her loss of a "normal" life since her son has Ds.

I guess in a world where being politically correct seems to extend to just about every topic and it feels impossible to be forever "sensitive" it really can start to feel like we're just overdoing it in the politically correct arena.  To think that perhaps it's time to insist that we should just ignore what we don't want to hear and stop taking it so personally.  That when you hear the "R" word being used to describe something that is silly, or inane to just accept that it has taken on a different meaning than the one originally used to describe people with cognitive disabilities.

But as much as it seems like we should just ignore it, it really does sting.  It's been hard for me to describe why those words and those slurs make me shiver. And the best explanation I have found justify my feelings can be read here in this brutally honest post about the "R" word.  Knowing that these put-downs are being made toward a group of people that are less able to defend themselves makes it seem all the more mean-spirited, even when the intent is a joke.  Superimpose that over my desire to validate my own daughter's worth with the small steps I am taking taking to demonstrate the beauty of my girl and of Ds one blog post at a time.  I am just a proud mama who wants the world to recognize her baby's value in a time when so many seek to eradicate Ds like a disease we can vaccinate against.

One of my main worries for Cora's future is how she will be perceived by others.  Despite the fact that everyone who knows her discovers that (even at such a young age) she is so charismatic, smart, charming and beautiful, I know that she will face discrimination.  And that hurts my heart.  Because the evidence of her extra chromosome is written on her face, it is recognizable, and people respond to that.  Even now I know, because I have seen the pity in people's eyes when they first learn that she has Ds.  I wish it weren't there. 

So even if you think we are "too sensitive", please try to see the other side if just for a second.  I think you may just get a glimpse when you see little Beanie's smile.


  1. Great post. As silly as this will sound, I tend to avoid using "politically correct" as a term because I think people handwave it so easily, dismiss it as silly and overwrought...when actually, being aware of how one uses language is more about being aware of and respectful of other people's feelings.

    Whether a person identifies with being hurt over a term or word commonly used in our culture or not, they can accept that it does hurt other people in ways that a person with the privilege to ignore language choices can't really understand, and that matters. It matters a lot.

  2. While I think that our country would benefit greatly from some "toughening up" I whole-heartedly agree with Leah and Sarah. True, maybe we should all let the small stuff slide right off, but if you can and you have the ability to not say a certain word to save someone else pain, I would think that a compassionate human would choose that path. I mean, we all are, by nature, good, right...?

  3. It is there, and it is not there, yes?

  4. I believe some things "politically correct" are in fact ridiculous as some of those things and the terms used to make other people not have their feelings hurt in fact hurt those people who take pride and live their lives with the teachings, understandings and traditions. You can not please everyone because no matter what is said or how someone will be offended. However, this is a conversation about the R word. No matter how it is said or used it is hurtful, demeaning, and an embarrassment for anybody having to hear it used. I personally think it should not exist in our vocabulary. So many words people use and say in derogatory ways. Everyone is different and special in their own way. What one may find as a not normal or wrong another finds it the most beautiful thing in the world. Everyone needs to take the time to find the beauty in the people around them instead of liking for some quality they can use to joke about ridicule demean and abuse them by. I have only had the pleasure of knowing two people with ds and I will tell you right now those two individuals stloe my heart the moment I met them. Yes they may be a little different than others but they are the most loving, caring, intelligent, fun people I have ever met. Never did they have a mean thing to say about anyone or anything. Unfortunately I have not seen them in years but have spoke to them on the phone on several occasions one of them at age 29 now moved into her own apartment last year and holds a part time job and the other is 14 in junior high and loves life. I hope that one of these visits Leah Nick and Cora make up to my neck of the woods we will be able to spend some time together and I will finally be able to meet beautiful little Cora. Can't wait to meet her cousin Kai either. Man I miss my leahnardo, mirangalo, and eriel

  5. oh my gosh - your little baby girl is the cutest ever!!! I do believe it's me you're referring to (my daughter has DS) and I love this post!!!

  6. I could not have said it better myself. The word stings and my own best friend says it all the time. . .even when I call her on it. She will preface it with "I know you do not like the word but really, I was so r-word." It hurts. It really hurts because this is a person who KNOWS it is offensive and especially offensive to me yet she uses it. My daughter is too young to defend herself and it is up to me, as her mama to stand up to these slurs. Beautiful post!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!