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“It’s just a word!!” “Is it, really?!!”

I know we have all heard and read many rants on this subject BUT OBVIOUSLY IT IS STILL NOT ENOUGH BECAUSE IT KEEPS ON HAPPENING! Am I shouting?  You think?!!

What does it do to you to hear a person refer to another person who acts silly or goofy or badly as a “RETARD”?  Well, it really irks me!  Yeah, sure on the school playground we heard it, and hopefully over time these kids grew up to be responsible  and politically correct adults, right?  WRONG! {Did you hear that buzzing sound go off?}

They say “that bad habits die hard”…is that the excuse you are giving yourselves?  “Oh, lighten up, what’s the big deal!? What are you so upset about?  You know what I mean!”  Ever hear those excuses? Well, they don’t fly with me!

I recently moved back to Montreal.  Now granted, I realize there are culturally, different expressions and jokes but there are also many politically INCORRECT comments that are still uttered in the name of “Ah, it’s just in fun…it doesn’t mean anything…really”.  Oh, yeah!!  I beg to differ!  I have heard it in other provinces so it is not just a Quebec thing…but we are more outspoken people in public though, so it will be heard  EVEN outside of their “homes”.

Well, get this, I work in the mental health field and I hear some professionals using the word “Mongol” which literally is an ancient French term from the 50-60’s”, referring to Down Syndrome, which Quebecers mean “Retarded” when they are meaning silly (or worse).  Well, ummm, sure in those days we also said Indian instead of First Nations People (Aboriginals), I can think of others but I cringe of the racist connotations that I would not utter; but frankly, I would usually hear these “faux pas” from a much older generation, like people in their 80’s.

Some younger adults utter that here and there in my presence and I cringe, grit my teeth and want to whack them behind the head…I just visualize this and it helps, I guess.   Why don’t I say something?  If it is outside of my work, I will most of the time; if it is at work and my boss has heard it, I try to intervene but when a manager only frowns or laughs it off…what can I do?!!…sheeeesh! It really riles me.

Fortunately, there are some brilliant young professionals who work with me and are totally open to learn and are not offended when corrected.  Well then, that is a sign of intelligence…to learn, right?

Have any of you ever heard someone telling a joke and one of those “slurs” slip in?  How do you react?  Do you shift around in your seat and wonder if you should comment on it?  It’s okay to paraphrase “that part of the comment” with the correct phrase, like a “developmentally challenged person”,  “a person with a learning disabilities”,  or not a schizophrenic but a person with Schizophrenia, etc.  It is not the mental health condition that defines the person; there is a person who may have acquired one form of mental illness.

Get it together folks…especially professionals in mental health!

P.S. Here is a blog from a person I admire from afar…but boy how she inspires me!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, Montreal, Canada 2012


A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

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