The R-word is the word ‘retard(ed)’. You’ve probably heard it used or maybe used it yourself. You may think it’s not a big deal, it’s only slang or a figure of speech, but it’s more than that. When you use the R-word as slang, you are hurting people with intellectual disabilities because of the negative connotation of your comment. The R-word has long been associated with people with intellectual and development disabilities, so when you use the word in a negative context, you’re putting down people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of if you mean to or not. The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive and it’s derogatory.
What is the YELLOWCARD Campaign?
The YELLOWCARD Campaign for Special Olympics aims to end the use of the R-word in everyday conversation. Special Olympics athletes have voiced how harmful the use of the R-word is to them. It invokes memories of bullying, of being demeaned, and of being framed as an outsider not worthy of respect.
A yellow card in soccer is shown to an offending player as a warning – a way of letting you know that you’ve crossed a line, perhaps without even intending to do so. Even when it’s used in a way that seems harmless, benign or even positive, the truth is there is #nogoodway to use the R-Word. The goal with YELLOWCARD is to inform and engage without being punitive or threatening, to invite change, not force it.
October 8th is Yellowcard Day. Show your support by using #nogoodway on social media and remember to make the choice to eliminate the R-word from your vocabulary not just today, but everyday.