By Kris Miller, Self-Advocate
My name is Kris. I have been supported by Hammer Residences for about 25 years. I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences about bullying and why I hope everyone will stop using the R-word.
I want you to know that no one should use the R-word. If you do not know what the R-word is, R stands for Retarded, and I will only refer to it as the R-word going forward. It is an awful word, and it causes pain to many people, myself included. R should stand for Respect.
Stop saying the R-word. It hurts my feelings. Be respectful about disabilities. Be nicer. Treat us as normal people.
When I was in school, people teased me a lot. In high school, people put tape in my hair and spit on me while calling me the R-word. Someone even punched me in the stomach while calling me that word. That made me upset. It made me cry like crazy. When they called me the R-word, it made me feel ashamed, like I was less of a person.
I hear the R-word in the movies. I hear it in music and on television. I have to turn off the television or stop listening to the music. It is a painful, negative word.
Yes, I have a disability. But like everyone else, I feel really good and happy when I am treated with respect. I think people do not always understand. I encourage people to ask me questions. I tell them that I have a learning disability and that makes it hard for me to learn things. However, I still have feelings and try very hard to learn new things. Things usually turn around for the better when people begin to understand. Afterwards, it can be a very positive relationship.
I want people who may be bullied to know that they can stand up for their rights. Say: “Stop saying that!” or “Stop teasing me” or “Be respectful and treat me like everyone else!”
I respectfully ask that everyone speak with words that are not hurtful and not support or allow others to spread the R-word. One person at a time, we can stop the use of this negative word! Make your pledge here.