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November 06, 2011

Comments

Heather

BIG <3.

I dunno if we ever chatted about this, but my aunt's daughter (mom's sister), 6 moths younger than me, was born Down's. She died on the operating table fixing a heart window when we were 3, but the impact of her life has never been lost and we are a family who has never, ever used the word (except when my aunt was a social worker in the 70s/80s, it was what was used clinically) - we just never used it. It just feels so wrong sliding off the tongue as an insult, if I try to imagine myself saying it - and you know me, I self depricate with the best of them.

Now - Jason's family, also has a child with Down's, his cousin also, who has lived all this time, he's in his 40s now. And his family uses it. I asked them to not use it (which was an interesting convo because when I pointed out my cousin, they pointed out theirs and said it wasn't meant to be mean, it was just a term people use - hello, awkward.) I can't remember the last time I heard it from them (at least around me) so it seems to have made some impact.....but I find it interesting that two families with very similar situations have very different values around it. That as you said, it's so ingrained that even a family with a person with Down's syndrome uses it and thinks nothing of it.

Shasta

Yup, it's true. It really is ingrained. I remember in high school when it was really hard not to use the word "gay" derogatorily because *everyone* was using it. But that seems to have fallen by the wayside so I have hope that the r-word will too. And you're right, essays like this one help push us that direction!

megan

I learned about this word as a child when my sister decided it applied to me. I heard it every day. Repeatedly. And I believed it. In some ways I always felt like a lesser person because as a child no one noticed this was happening and told me otherwise. I truly dislike this word and I would be floored to hear it come out of my own mouth. Why? Why? Why? I just don't get it.

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