I’ve learned that even as an inclusive, open-minded, advocating person, I used words that were hurtful to many. I was recently called out as ableist for using the word “crazy.” I was defensive. After-all, I was raised among severely mentally-ill people, some who joked about it. I have my own mental-illnesses, though not as debilitating as they once were. Wasn’t it okay to say “crazy”? Or any other terms that are/can be used as slurs against the mentally ill, if I’ve lived it?
But the seed had been planted. In all honesty, I can’t make the anti-politically correct arguments anymore. If people I care about/like/love/support are hurt, or if I contribute to stigma, WHICH AFFECTS ME AS WELL, I’m part of the problem. I’m being ableist, guilty of acting from privilege, regardless of my actual privilege. Is this a matter of my wanting “everyone” to like me? No. It’s a matter of making a positive contribution to the evolution of language rather than maintaining or contributing to stigmatizing language.
I’m evolving. In the process I am contributing to the removal of stigma, rather than working against it. Is it easy to change the way we think & speak, no. Is it important? I believe it is. I will make mistakes. I’m human. But I’m making a conscious effort to remove ableist language from my vocabulary. As well as any other stigmatizing, demeaning, or just plain outdated language that only served to perpetuate the illusion that some humans are “less than” other humans. If I believe we are all truly equal as humans, I must be true to my belief with my thoughts and words.