Friday, October 8, 2010

President Obama Signs Rosa's Law!

Today, I attended a reception at the White House with Special Olympics athletes to celebrate the enactment of Rosa’s Law. The bill’s passage is a huge victory for everyone, not just people with intellectual disabilities, as it acknowledges the power of words to separate, alienate, and ultimately dehumanize people when they are categorized as ‘other.’ While we still have so far to go in eliminating the use of the r-word in society and in showing others the extent to which demeaning language can hurt, we celebrate this tremendous milestone.

While some might scoff at this change as mere political correctness, I wish you could have been at the reception with these Special Olympics athletes and have heard their many stories of pain and isolation that resulted from the use of demeaning language. Although you couldn’t be there today to hear it from the athletes themselves, so many others have articulated the hurt and isolation they have experienced, including Special Olympics Global Messenger Frank Stephens:

"So, what's wrong with "retard"? I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the "in" group. We are someone that is not your kind."

Today is one victory in an ongoing battle and we ask you to join us March 2, 2011 to Spread the Word to End the Word.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad Rosa's Law was passed. The stigma of the r-word is something that crosses borders and ethnicities, just like intellectual disability. People are people, no matter their ability.