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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A conversation about ableism

The girls learned a new word the other week: lame.

And, as you would assume, everything on the car ride home that day was lame.

The car seats were lame, the puppy was lame, pink was lame.

I know it's just a common word. I know a lot of people say it to mean they don't like whatever they are talking about. I know it's splitting hairs.

But I had to say something.

So, instead of grinning and bearing it, and hoping they'd grow out of using it, I asked them if they knew what lame meant.

They didn't.

So, I told them that it referred to a disability, someone being unable to walk was the example I used. Then I told them that sometimes if they use that word, people who aren't able to walk or who suffer other disabilities feel bad because they're using it to mean stupid, or something they don't like.

Do they not like people who can't walk?

Can the color pink not walk?

If neither of those things are true, I told them they shouldn't use the term.

If they wanted to say the color pink is stupid, that's what they should say, I told them. Better yet, why not just say "I don't like the color pink." That's what they really mean.

Words have meaning, as I always say, and it's important to teach children to say what they mean from an early age in my opinion.

I haven't heard the word lame since.

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