Stop the Hate

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“Beautiful ladies, welcome to Super Mart, how is your day going?” Overweight, acne scarred, and with crooked teeth that looked like they could spit butter, his nametag read, “Morris”. His appearance, the cadence of his voice, and his mannerisms screamed mental retardation. Avoiding eye contact, my mother and I walked past him giving him obligatory smiles. Our encounter with Morris was quickly forgotten until we left the store.
Pulling up to the loading area in my mother’s SUV, we saw groceries strewn across the ground and a bag boy pushing and yelling at Morris. Even with the windows rolled up we still heard the harsh words: retard, idiot and worthless, coming from the bag boy. My mother rolled down her window, expecting an explanation from the bagger, but instead he ranted about how the store made a mistake to hire “this retard” in the first place. He continued to complain how Morris is a worthless employee and drops groceries repeatedly. Over the bagger’s shoulder I see Morris’s face, a face full of shame.
Driving home, I couldn't stop thinking about Morris’s face and how the bagger acted superior to Morris, just because he was mentally retarded. I was overcome with guilt, realizing my initial reaction to Morris, was no better than the way the bagger treated him; my mother and I had hurried past him as if he had a contagious disease. My generation stands up against racism, homophobia and sexism but uses the word “retard” without reservation. My peers use the word “retarded” to describe mundane problems such as bad cell phone service, a sandwich with too much mayonnaise, or even a bad song on the radio.
Retarded isn't a phone, a sandwich or a song, it represents human beings, people who deserve to be treated equally and with respect, people who have an additional burden in navigating life. The bagger had no right to blame an accident on Morris’s retardation; I had no right to shun *Morris's friendly greeting because of the way he carried himself, and my generation has no right to use the word retard as an insult or derogatory term.
After my experience with Morris, I joined Friendship Circle, an organization that prides itself on helping special needs children. I joined because the expression I saw on Morris's face was an expression I never wanted to see again. Although I’ve shared smiles with hundreds of special needs children, I still feel remorse about how I failed Morris that day. Stopping all hatred is a large task for one person, but one person can act as an example to others by reserving judgment and keeping an open mind. I show others they are people first and special needs last. I also let it be known that It is no more appropriate to use the word “retarded” than it is “to use black, gay, or Jewish” to describe something or someone that is different.





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Silver2black said...
Mar. 13, 2012 at 11:28 am
Very good story stadning up aginst Justiceism (Jugding people, for no reason). I lke it, In my mind "Dumb" is much better to use than the "R" word. I'm not that type of person that would use Any harsh word... But I get your massge very good story :) !
 
hanni replied...
Mar. 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm
Thanks so much for reading!!!! I really appreciate it!!!!! :)
 
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