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When a Restaurant Server Used the R-Word in Front of My Family

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This morning we went for lunch, just me, my husband and the babies to have a little time to ourselves. Our lunch was going great at Texas Roadhouse — until the moment I have dreaded for two years happened. Our server decided to use the R-word. Not directed at my child thankfully, but still standing less than five feet from our table.

It took me a minute to calm down before I could say anything, and I wanted to use this opportunity to educate instead of scold. So I simply explained she used a word that simply should not be used. At first she looked at me like she didn’t know what I was talking about, so I told her that she used the R-word. I then explained that my son has Down syndrome and that word is hurtful not only to us, but many other people with intellectual disabilities as well.

She started by saying she was only using it to refer to herself, but I explained that using any hateful language is not acceptable. It is not OK to refer to ourselves or anyone with derogatory terms. I asked her if she thought it was OK to use the N-word. Of course she didn’t, and at that moment she understood how much one word she said hurt us.

I am actively trying every day to raise my kids to be kind and understanding, little humans who will one day spread love and compassion instead of the hate that is rampant in today’s world. But in two syllables, someone can spread so much hurt and hate. I want to change the world for my son. I want him to be included and understood. I want people to look at him and see the person he is, not judge him by his diagnosis.

There are simply words that shouldn’t be used anymore. Yes, at one point in time they were acceptable, but we have grown as a society and our language should reflect that. Let’s spread the word to end the R-word and all other words like it!

Originally published: August 8, 2019
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