Today is a very special day. This post is more personal than I would normally get on this blog, but it’s a cause that’s very close to our hearts. And hopefully close to your heart after today. Today is a national day of awareness against using the word “retard.” Specifically, using the r-word to say that you or someone else is as stupid as someone with disabilities, and using the word in a derogatory manner.
I am proud to say that my sister has Down syndrome. Our daughter loves her auntie, and their relationship is amazing and awe-inspiring. My sister is smart, funny, sensitive, and strong. She is not a retard.
As photographers, we meet a lot of people. And one of the great things about photographing people is that you get to see what makes everyone shine. What makes this person unique, and how can I capture that on film? Over the years we’ve had the honor to photograph many people with disabilities and their families.
It’s challenging work to be sure, but the rewards go far beyond anything we could have imagined. To see the faces of family members who tell us that they’ve never had a decent photo of their son/daughter/brother is humbling. These are not the faces of people with disabilities. They are the faces of PEOPLE. Pure and simple. And when you use the word “retard” in everyday speech, you are saying that these people are not worthy of your respect and dignity.
Every person has a story. And your words have power. Everyone, from your children to your neighbor across the street is listening to what you say. What story will you choose to tell today?
Take the pledge today! Sign up at Spread the Word to End the Word and pledge to not use the r-word in everyday conversation. If you’re interested in our work with people with disabilities, please purchase a copy of our book Walk With Me, featuring stories written by people in WI who have siblings with Down syndrome.