"You're so retarded!" "What a retard!" "That's SO retarded."
Floyd Dryden Essay: Using the word 'retard' 042512 SPEAKINGOUT 1 For the Capital City Weekly "You're so retarded!" "What a retard!" "That's SO retarded."
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Story last updated at 4/25/2012 - 11:31 am

Floyd Dryden Essay: Using the word 'retard'

"You're so retarded!" "What a retard!" "That's SO retarded."

I'm sure you have said or heard the word "retard" or "retarded" just about every day. But have you ever stopped to think about the real meaning of that word and how you're really using it? Or how it may hurt the people around you who may have a family member who is "retarded"? By reading this essay, I will tell you why people should not use the words "retard" or "retarded."

The word "retard" may be offensive to people who have a family member with a disability. Since I have a sister with a disability, I find the word extremely offensive and hurtful. My sister needs help getting dressed, brushing her hair and teeth, reading, and writing her own name. She's seventeen and was born mentally retarded. If someone is acting stupid or dumb, people call them a retard. If they don't like something, it's retarded. I find the word offensive because it's just being used as another slang word.

I interviewed my dad to get his perspective of the "R" word.

"I find the words 'retard' and 'retarded' offensive because I have a daughter with a disability. I take offense to it because it's more personal to me and I know a lot of people that are legitimately retarded."

Not only is the word retard offensive to people who have a family member with a disability, but also some people may find the word prejudiced. Think of it like this: if someone was black, would you call them the "N" word"? If someone was Chinese would you call them a "chink?" If someone has a disability would you call them a "retard?" The word retard is no different from any other racist terms. This can be why people find the word prejudiced. My mom says, "You don't call black people or other people of race derogatory names, so why would call someone who is mentally retarded a retard?" Also, Sheridan Cook says she finds the word "retard" prejudiced because people are singling out others in a rude form.

Some people may not understand the true meaning behind the word retard.

"Retarded: Adj, sometimes offensive: Slow or limited in intellectual, emotional, or academic progress," states the, Merriam-Webster Dictionary. When I asked my friend Anya if she knew the meaning behind the word "retard," she responded saying, "I think I understand the meaning of the word retard, it's when your either mentally challenged, have a disability or a bit un-smart. I don't say that word because I know the meaning and some people are actually retarded and they can't help it. My teachers will get mad if a student says that word and I don't really acknowledge them if I hear them say it." So before using that word, we should think twice about it and try and replace it with a different word like "stupid" or "dumb" or even better, "RE-diculous" instead.

I hope you understand and realize why people should not use the words "retard" or "retarded." The words can be hurtful and offensive to people around you. By reading this, I hope you will now stop and think before you use the "R" word, or stand up to the people that use it and kindly remind them not to. We can't make the word go away, but we can help stop it from being used in the wrong way and hold respect for others around you. To help go to, Spread the word to end the word.com and take the pledge to stop using the "R" word.

Taya Jensen is a student at Floyd Dryden Middle School. This essay is part of an annual project with Samantha Davis' language arts classes at the middle school. A student editorial board selected student essays for publication.