why it matters

But for our part, we are trying to awaken the world to the need for a new civil rights movement — of the heart. 

~ Tim Shriver


As some of you might remember, my daughter, Katie wrote a post last year called The Saddest Word of All. In that post, she took it upon herself to tell the world (or at least anyone who read her blog) why she was so adamantly opposed to the casual use of the word Retarded.

Well, it seems that Katie wasn’t the only big sister who had something to say.

A young woman recently made the following incredibly moving and thought-provoking video for her brother. I think we all would do well to listen carefully to what these amazing siblings have to say.

Thank you, Reagan, Your brother is one very lucky young man.



Spread the word to end the word – Click HERE

22 thoughts on “why it matters

  1. My daughter looks “normal” but has the challenges of autism, cognitive impairment, CAPD, SPD, and several other issues. I hate the “r” word. My heart rips when I hear it. I so appreciate this video. I shared it.

  2. I have spoken to everyone about using that horrible word when I hear it but the biggest shame of all is that people still use it. Thank you, Reagan. I also pledged.


  3. I need help with what to say to people when I hear them use the R word. Twice I’ve said something and it sounded awkward both times. Once I wanted to say something but the words never came. I knew I would start crying if I opened my mouth. Do you say something right there in the middle of a conversation when several people are talking or do you wait and bring it up later to the offender? It’s very emotional and especially at work, I don’t want to start crying as I tell someone that the word makes me uncomfortable.

    • @jaytrain, i almost always wait. i find that it gives me time to take a deep breath, think through what i want to say and ensure that i can approach the conversation calmly.

      i almost always say something to the effect of, ‘i fear i’m going to sound oversensitive here, but i hope you’ll hear me out. the reason i feel comfortable bringing this up is that i know that you would never intentionally hurt anyone, so i know that it was not remotely purposeful, but i heard you use the word ‘retarded’ earlier and i wanted to ask you to consider not using it.

      i ALWAYS tell them that i used the word for YEARS as well. that it was a huge part of my vocabulary but that i removed it when i found out how hurtful and destructive it can be when my daughter was diagnosed w autism and we had to register her with the dept of mental retardation.

      i ALWAYS assume that they mean no harm. that they simply don’t know better because they haven’t yet encountered someone to tell them. if they prove otherwise, well, that’s a whole different ballgame and you can’t usually reason with mean.

      but anyway, i tell them that i will still, to this day catch myself on the verge of using it and when i do i will say, ridiculous. as in ‘dude, that’s re- … um – diculous.’ it ain’t perfect, but it’s good in stopping slip ups.

      if they’re looking for a replacement for what used to be called MR, terms that are often used now are intellectual disability (intellectually disabled) and cognitive impairment (cognitively impaired). if they are looking for what to call someone who is acting like a jackass, i’d suggest jackass. 🙂

      in the past, i have also used my posts, katie’s post and videos like this one as fodder for conversation. i’ve sent them to friends who just didn’t seem to get it.

      i’ve linked to a couple below, one that even tells the story of me awkwardly approaching a co-worker on the topic, who while slipping a couple of times initially but always catching himself has not used the word in nearly a year.

      i hope that’s helpful!





  4. Reagan is such an inspiration!! She is truly her brother’s hero – what a beautiful heart. I wish more people were exactly like her. My heart is full – thanks for sharing.

  5. This was the most beautiful and touching video I’ve ever seen. Not only were the words on the post-it notes powerful, but Reagan’s expressions in the background spoke volumes to me. Reagan – you have a beautiful spirit and I hope this video is seen by millions world wide.

  6. @the jay train (comment #7)

    Your comment has been simmering in my brain for the past few hours and I just had an idea to suggest…

    Use your best “I’m confused” facial expression and an innocent, friendly tone of voice and ask, “what did you mean just now when you used the word r—-?” I’m guessing that people would react to that in a variety of ways but if you can keep the conversation casual & non-confrontational, I’m thinking they will at some point come up with some other word – probably one of the ones in the video.

    If/when that happens, then you can say, “Ohhh, now I understand what you meant. I guess you don’t realize that using the word ‘r——‘ in that way is really hurtful to a lot of people, because I’m sure that wasn’t your intention. Do you think that maybe you could switch to using ” instead of ‘r——-‘?”

    Even if it doesn’t go the way I’ve imagined, just by asking the question you’ve planted a thought-seed that may grow into awareness.

    Last time I got my hair cut my stylist used the ‘r’ word a bunch of times, but not as a pejorative – she’s of the generation that grew up using that word in its original sense. When she was finished cutting my hair, (so we could speak face-to-face) I asked, “You know how words sometimes change meaning over time, and a word that used to be commonly accepted becomes offensive? Or a word that used to be offensive is now commonly accepted? Like, how people don’t say ‘colored’ or ‘Negro’ anymore, they say ‘black’ or ‘African-American’? ‘R—–‘ is like that. A lot of people feel really hurt when they hear that word now.” It didn’t come out at all smoothly as it sounds like, written out like that, in fact I felt like I sounded incredibly awkward, but she listened. Then she asked what to say instead, and I had to say, “I don’t know”. So that’s a question I could use help with, if anyone will answer it?

    I think it’s important to provide an alternative rather than just saying, “don’t say ‘r—–‘ because if that’s all you say, you’ve given the other person a problem rather than a solution. That makes it a lot less likely for them to change.

    • Thank you for that. I will try and see how it goes. I work in the construction industry and my office has 90 men and about 6 women so there’s not much “political correctness” going on here. I don’t want to get dismissed because they see me as the sensitive girl in the office. But I think they would respect me being straight forward and as you said, offering an alternative.

  7. Reagan, you’re a GREAT big sister. I’m a sub now, but before I substituted, I was a full-time teacher of children with handicaps. Many of my students also have Downs Syndrome and have autism. Thank you, Reagan, for your thought-provoking video.
    Please, tell Russell what a great big sister he has!

  8. Oh my Reagan you are one beautiful young woman. Russell has given you inspiration to be better for him and others around you and him in life!
    Bless you, it’s people like you that help us parents see our kids differently on those hard days!

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