Who Am I?

My photo

I like sports....lots of sports...all sports!  Follow my blog as I talk about sports....if you like sports of course

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Stop Using the R-word #nogoodway

Did you know yesterday, October 1, was the annual YELLOWCARD day?  Do you know what Yellowcard day is?  If not, you are not alone.  But let's change that!

Yellowcard day is part of a campaign to end the casual use of the R-word in everyday conversations amongst young professionals in Canada.  In support of Special Olympic athletes, motionball has started a movement to eliminate the use of this word.  From the movement website

"A yellow card in soccer is shown to an offending player as a warning – a way of letting you know that you’ve crossed a line, perhaps without even intending to do so. We want to let people know that even when it’s used in a way that seems harmless, benign or even positive, the truth is there is #nogoodway to use the R-Word. Our goal with YELLOWCARD is to inform and engage without being punitive or threatening. We want to invite change, not force it."

Is there any reason why more people are not supporting this movement?  When you look at the website (which I hope all of you reading this will do!!!), notice the counter mid-way down the page.  As I write this blog, the counter shows the R-word has been tweeted...yes just tweeted...6,958,266 times.  Just under 7 million times!  Really? 

This topic hits very close to home for me.  My younger brother was born with a disability.  He has faced the public stigma of this on a daily basis from a young age.  We have heard the R-word used in his direction.  We took him and his friends bowling for his birthday one year.  A few lanes over was another child's birthday party.  I overheard a few of the kids at the other lane talking and asking if those kids (referring to our lanes) were all retards.  I don't think my brother or any of his friends heard, but I did.  I remember being mad that they would be saying a hurtful word about my brother.  He was my brother.  I had never really thought of the R-word being in the same sentence as him.  Sure he was in a wheelchair, sure he couldn't walk, sure his speech is not always perfect, but that was him.  He was my brother and that was how he was born.  Some people are tall.  Some people are short.  Some people are white.  Some people are black.  It was all the same to me.  I was both mad and confused.  Don't get me wrong, I do not think some of the kids and parents who have used the word in front of us meant it in a spiteful or hurtful way; however, the use of the word still has a negative impact.  As the movement hashtag states, #nogoodway

While my brother has more of a physical disability in comparison to intellectual disability, the use of the R-word and the negative impact affects all of us.  Think of the last time you or your teammate or your buddy used the word.  Who was around?  Did you recognize the word being used?  How did you respond?  How did you feel?  My guess is most of us probably don't even recognize the word being used around us.  Now put yourself in a wheelchair unable to walk or imagine yourself with an intellectual disability resulting in you unable to speak.  Now imagine you are on the bus or at work or in school and people around you are using the R-word.  Maybe someone even says it in your direction.  Now how do you feel?

In our family, we refuse to acknowledge this word as part of the English language.  Yes, I realize turning our head away from a word that is commonly used does not solve the issue but we still refuse to allow the word in our homes and in front of my brother.  I have had friends use the word.  I do not get upset with them.  Rather I point out my dislike of the word.  Even if not said in a negative way with meaning, it still has a negative tone in my head and possibly to those in earshot.  Most friends I have said this to have acknowledged my dislike of the word.  Most know of my family background.  And almost all have stopped using the word, at least in front of me.  Do they still use the word when I am not around?  Perhaps, but I can always hope they don't or at least have caught themselves and stopped.

I would like to encourage you to visit the yellowcard site.  Sign up as a yellowcard ambassador.  As of this moment, there are 5,934 people who taken the pledge to raise awareness and educate others on putting an end to the use of the R-word in society.  Will you join this movement?  Share this with your friends, family and colleagues.  Whether we are friends or not, know one another or are strangers, however you stumbled across my blog, please at least educate yourself on this initiative.

I want to thank Canadian curler and 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist Brad Gushue for tweeting out about this important topic.  I honestly had not heard about this until I saw his tweet yesterday.  I don't know Brad and have never met him but am a fan of his and the sport.  Please send him a thank you tweet if you like.  I hope more high-profile athletes, actors, performers, public figures join this movement and help us end the use of the R-word.  I encourage you to also become more informed on the work of the Special Olympics.  They are a wonderful organization.  I was fortunate to volunteer for the Alberta Special Olympics Summer Games one year and it was one of the most exciting, fun, motivating volunteer experiences I have ever been a part of.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  I always welcome feedback.

BTW, the counter is now at 6,958,483...jumped 217 times in the short time I was writing.