How to respond to someone who uses the R-word

Scenario: you are talking with a friend, a colleague, a new acquaintance in a casual conversation, and all of a sudden they use the R-word in a derogatory manner.

This can offend you. This can make you cringe. This can cause you to want to do or say something, or to just keep quiet and be disappointed in that person’s choice of words.

If you decide to speak up to this person’s choice of word, what are the most effective and respectful ways to respond? The Mighty recently teamed up with the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign and compiled suggestions and submissions for a list of ways you could respond.

[Related: Alpha Sigma Alphas pledge to end use of derogatory word, “Retard”]

Here are a few that stood out to us:

1. “I need you to know it breaks my heart when you say that. You are belittling someone I love every time you use that word.”

2. “You never know how a word like that is going to hit somebody. You never know who has a kid or a sibling or a friend who has that word lobbed at them in the ugliest way. It’s just better not to say it.”

3. “There are so many other words in our vocabulary that can be used. There is really no need to use the R-word.”

4. “Goodness, we need to find you a better word!”

5. “Can you please choose another word? I have a child with Down syndrome, and that word is not respectful of him.”

Read the full list of responses here.

[Related: RSVP to Spread the Word to End the Word campaign]


What suggestions do you have on how to respond to someone when they use the R-word? Comment below to share!

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