Monday, January 29, 2018

It Is Never Okay To Mock Someone With Down Syndrome

I am disgusted.

I am angry.

I am afraid.

Also, I might be a little speechless which is why I don't even know how to say this.

This past week, two major incidents flashed across my newsfeed.

1. A comedian on Netflix used the word "retarded" as the butt of his joke...but then he decided to take it even further to replace that word with "having 21 chromosomes"....deliberately targeting Down syndrome in his mocking hilarity on being stupid or ridiculous.

This is not funny.

2. A LulaRoe retailer, during a live sale, had a slip up (no worries, happens to the best of us!), but he chose to cover his slip with a deliberate mocking, pretending that he had Down syndrome and THAT was why he messed up.

This is not okay.

The worst part is, as concerned people voiced complaints, Netflix sided with the comedian. LulaRoe sided with the retailer.

With sales, page views, and the buzz of controversy increased popularity on the line...

No one sided with Down syndrome.

Money won out over human decency this week.

And this is why I'm afraid.

Just a few weeks ago, I was thinking how far Down syndrome advocacy had come. When I first started blogging, I felt this huge need to share our lives with Addison. Not because I was such a brilliant writer or what I had to say was so noteworthy. No. I wanted to share life with Down syndrome to take away the stigma. To show the joy. To let you peek at the normalcy of it all.

And a few weeks ago, I honestly wondered if my blog was still needed? The interwebs are now flooded with new families with babies with Down syndrome sharing their beautiful, normal, chromosomally enhanced lives. People are advocating just brilliantly all around, and I have enjoyed taking a bit of a back seat and watching.

Until this week. As I stared at my screen, hoping that I was reading these words incorrectly because how could this be?

How can people publicly and deliberately mock Down syndrome as if this is normal and okay?

IT IS NOT.

The LuLaRoe retailer, after hearing this backlash (and realized he might lose sales!), apologized for his actions. And yes, we are to forgive. But also, some actions...no matter how much you apologize....deserve to make you lose your job.

AND HE DIDN'T.

This actually then became quite a bit deal as the NDSS then cut ties with LulaRoe which is super SUPER sad because several families that I follow with adult children with DS, LOVE the LulaRoe brand because it fits their kiddos so well but they now feel like supporting this clothing brand is now supporting a mocking stance toward Down syndrome.

The ramifications of this man's choice are not pretty.

Furthermore, the fact that this happened with two separate men....two separate companies...in the space of one week, tells me that this isn't the problem of one individual or one company.

This is wider spread than I think any of us realize.

People think it's okay to laugh at Down syndrome. People think it's okay to mock Down syndrome.

AND IT'S NOT.

In a moment of unplanned trouble (or in a calculated thought out moment of "how can I get the most page views?), this is where their minds went.

As I stare into the vulnerable, almond-shaped eyes of my daughter, watching her work hard and rock life in her own unique way....and then watching a man online take his hands to either side of his face, pulling his eyes back to resemble that same almond shape as he MOCKS ABOUT HIS MISTAKE....

I am disgusted.

I am angry.

I am afraid.

I am afraid for Addison. Because I didn't realize that this was the world that she was growing up in. I thought our advocating had made a difference. I thought that the disability temperature had changed.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I just want to wrap her in protective bubble wrap and never let her get hurt. One day, she will be old enough to realize these things. One day, she will see someone mocking her....for the part of her that God beautifully and perfectly designed....and with tears dripping from those gorgeous eyes, windows straight to her sweet soul, she will ask, "why?"

And I won't have an answer.

Can we just stop with the mocking? Can we choose kindness? Or how about even...if you don't have anything nice to say, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.

Next week is Addison's birthday. My girl is turning 8. She just started ballet classes, she is loving second grade, and her line up of friends at school makes my heart sing.

Maybe my advocacy means nothing. I don't know. But I have to say it. I have to say that the next time you're tempted to mock Down syndrome or support someone else who does, remember it's not just letters spelling out words.

It's a little girl in ballet class. It's a little girl loving chocolate. It's a little girl reading in school. It's a little girl walking hand in hand with her friends.

It's a little girl with feelings....and a huge heart....and incredible worth.

I'm begging you. Stop. Please. Stop.

Let's support Down syndrome. Even if it costs you.

Because she is worth it.


7 comments:

  1. I didn't know about these episodes, and I am disgusted and sorry. Your posts prompts me to share that I have recently seen a number of children who I think have with DS, as I meander through my neighborhood in the course of my daily life, and I hope and believe that I see them with eyes freshened by your advocacy for and love of Addison. To my shame, I could not say that I wouldn't have had other, very different thoughts had it not been for reading your blog. So today of all days, I wanted to let you know that what you are sending out is making a difference.

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  2. My reserved fifteen year old told his baseball friends that using retarded as an insult wasn't cool. That's because of you. When I'm done homeschooling my three kids, I'll have my teaching certification in special needs completed so I can go teach high schoolers with a little something extra. Your story and words are changing the future, one person at a time.

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  3. Keep advocating! Every single person you reach and you teach is one less person in this world who "doesn't know better." I am sorry you have to deal with the ignorance of a few public people who by no means speak of the majority of the world. I am a mom to 2 kids, neither with down syndrome and I promise you, my kids know. Reading your words, I make sure they know! Be that kindness, be that good.

    Keep advocating. The worlds needs more people like you sharing and pushing and getting mad. There are so many more who care than those who don't.

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  4. As you may or may not recall, my granddaughter is autistic. The "r" word has been used about her only once that I can recall.

    You keep advocating from Essex and I will from North Jersey. Deal?

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  5. Thank you for continuing to advocate and teach here. I'm a seventh grade science teacher, and I have often referred to principles and ideas about Down syndrome that I have read here. In fact, I'm planning to show your video from Our Daily Bread after they finish their test on genetic changes. I may not be able to do much, but I can teach one small class the value of life and how to treat people. Thanks for your influence in that area of my life.

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  6. I work at a major technologicial college, and unfortunately even here in this esteemed environment, I have two coworkers (staff, not faculty at least!) who routinely use the 'r' word. I am in shock and awe that in this day and age, two educated, 'professional' woman (one of whom has a daughter with a hearing disability for goodness sake!) would include that word in their vocabulary. I don't know what to say except we have to keep letting them know without creating a hostile environment ourselves, that it is not okay. ♥

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  7. Great post! It really is disgusting that they feel happy mocking other people. Do they really think that having an extra chromosome means you are free game? I hate it.

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