Friday, February 21, 2014

The T-21 Blog Hop, February 2014 -- Ableist Language

I wish I could say that I had to think really hard about this month's topic.

Even before my friend Michael Scott Monje Jr. suggested this topic, I had run into numerous examples lately of ableist language being used--and even defended--by advocates and activists in other communities. 

I cannot say this enough:  whether intentional or not, whether a word was "once accepted" or not, whether you know/knew/have someone in your life that the slur may pertain to, it does not matter.  A slur is a slur, no matter how you try and dress it up afterwards. 

Thanks to the tireless efforts of many, the R word (or "retarded") has now become a readily recognized example of such a word.  However, there are many more.  Search your own vocabulary and explore the etymology for many of the words you use to describe "ridiculous" or "not thought out".  Words like stupid, imbecile, moron, idiot, cretin... all have their roots in ableist oppressive language.  To be specific:  if you are describing an object, person or situation in your life with a term that equates to the old eugenics term 'mentally deficient', you are using ableist language and in turn denigrating those with actual intellectual disabilities/developmental delays.  When you are describing an idea as 'blind' or 'dumb' or an economy as 'crippling', you are doing the same thing to those with other disabilities.

When it doubt, say something else.  On top of it all, it's hard to argue that one should stop demeaning one group of people when you are in the middle of dehumanizing another.

It's bad enough that folks have to put up with this kind of thing from the general public and celebrities (I'm looking at you Jerry Seinfeld), but to hear it from other advocacy communities, given how intersected we really all are... well, it's really disheartening, frankly. 

Remember it's not about you.  It's about the people who, in times past, were labelled with these words and outcast, brutalized and often killed outright.

This month, I encourage disability advocates to post their pieces discussing ableist language.  Be they old or new, I want to show how diverse the disability community really is and how so many different people are affected. 

If you need more information about the T-21 Blog Hop, you can click here.

For more detailed instructions on how to add the script to your post, click here.

[Update Feb 22:  The thumbnails may not be working below due to a server switch by LinkyTools.  The script is still able to accept new posts and I am told the images will be back as soon as possible.  To quote Clerks:  "I assure you we're open!"]


  1. Great collection of posts, as usual! I was too slow for this one this time, oops!

  2. Thank you again, Jen, for bringing folks and their words together. Yet again I am introduced to new people and perspectives. Good work.

  3. Wonderful collection of posts! Too late to submit mine, but the plethora of awesome material here will keep me occupied for a while :)


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