Top College News Subscribe to the Newsletter

EDITORIAL: Evaluate Your Language, No R-Word

Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 01:03

Recently, as a community, we have experienced horrible incidents of racism, acts that have shown the extreme hate people can show.  We have seen the enormous power of words being used to hurt others, and this is never acceptable.

"No one should be marginalized nor demeaned in such a way, and I hold out the greatest contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict that pain on another human being," Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University, said in a university-wide statement about these acts. 

This issue, however, goes beyond simply racism.  The homophobic slur written in McMahon Hall represents discrimination and hate directed towards those of different sexual orientations.  This example of hate also has no place at Fordham, or anywhere else for that matter.

Amidst these horrible events, we feel that this is a good time to evaluate the way we use language and words in general, in our everyday lives.  This language can either be intentional or unintentional; however, regardless of the circumstance, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on language that may be offensive or derogatory towards others.  One word that people use on a daily basis is incredibly hurtful.  It is common belief that the "n-word" and many other slurs are awful and should never be spoken in public; people, however, use the "r-word" everyday.

The word "retarded" (or "retard") is incredibly offensive. The words are derogatory slang used to mock or identify people with intellectual disabilities. They do not mean "silly" or "stupid."  Whether or not one knows it, every time a person uses this word, he or she demeans people with disabilities.  The use of the word is hurtful and explicitly discriminates against people with intellectual disability.  This word is just as much a slur as the others previously mentioned; however, many people still continue to use it in everyday speech, even unknowingly.  The continuing use of this word demeans people with disabilities, and people should evaluate their own speech and stop using it immediately.

Furthermore, in looking at the way people use language in light of recent events, we feel that often many people do not use people-first language to describe others.  This means that whenever we describe someone, they are not a disabled person or a Hispanic person or a Jewish person.  They are a person first.  Using the word "person" before using any other adjective recognizes the humanity and dignity that we all have and share.  By simply using this type of language, we are working towards the goal of ending racism and discrimination in our community.

This Wednesday, March 7, is the national day to "Spread the Word to End the Word," and we at The Ram feel that it is a perfect time for all people, especially those in our community, to commit to ending the use of the "r-word" and renew the effort to truly work against any type of discrimination that occurs in our community. 

What can we do here at Fordham? Do not remain silent on this issue, and make your voice heard.  There is a Rally for Solidarity this Thursday at 1 p.m. on the McGinley Lawn, and one can also join Fordham A.C.T., which stands for "Activating Consciousness Together."  USG founded this new coalition of students in order to encourage "practices that promote dignity, respect and understanding."

We as a University need to work especially hard to make sure that any type of act of hate will never have a place on this campus.  We must not simply accept that these acts "just happen."  We must actively strive and encourage others to work against discrimination in any form.

As a community, we need to work even harder to promote an environment that recognizes the inherent dignity of each and every person that we encounter.

Recommended: Articles that may interest you

Be the first to comment on this article! Log in to Comment

You must be logged in to comment on an article. Not already a member? Register now

Log In