A Special Kind of Love
When I was in seventh grade I clicked on a youtube video that made me cry. It changed me. It made me feel disgusted by myself, but empowered to change not only myself, but those around me. The video was of a speech given by Soeren Palumbo during his senior year at Palatine High School. His story will forever be etched in my mind: “I want to tell you a quick story before I start. I was walking through hallways, not minding my own business, listening to the conversations around me. As I passed the front door on my way to my English classroom, I heard the dialogue between two friends nearby. For reasons of privacy, I would rather not give away their race or gender. So the one girl leans to the other, pointing to the back of a young man washing the glass panes of the front door, and says, “Oh my gaw! I think it is so cute that our school brings in the black kids from around the district to wash our windows!” The other girl looked up, widened her slanted Asian eyes and called to the window washer, easily loud enough for him to hear, “Hey, Negro! You missed a spot!” … What do you think the black window washer did? Do you think he turned and calmly explained the fallacies of racism and showed the girls the error of their way? That’s the one thing that makes racism, or any discrimination, less powerful in my mind. No matter how biased or bigoted a comment or action may be, the guy can turn around and explain why racism is wrong and, if worst comes to worst, punch ‘em in the face. Discrimination against those who can defend themselves, obviously, cannot survive. What would be far worse is if we discriminated against those who cannot defend themselves. What then, could be worse than racism? Look around you and thank God that we don’t live in a world that discriminates and despises those who cannot defend themselves. Thank God that every one of us in this room, in this school, hates racism and sexism and by that logic discrimination in general. Thank God that every one in this institution is dedicated to the ideal of mutual respect and love for our fellow human beings. Then pinch yourself for living in a dream. Then pinch the hypocrites sitting next to you. Then pinch the hypocrite that is you. Pinch yourself once for each time you have looked at one of your fellow human beings with a mental handicap and laughed. Pinch yourself for each and every time you denounced discrimination only to turn and hate those around you without the ability to defend themselves, the only ones around you without the ability to defend themselves. Pinch yourself for each time you have called someone else a “retard.” If you have been wondering about my opening story, I’ll tell you that it didn’t happen, not as I described it. Can you guess what I changed? No, it wasn’t the focused hate on one person, and no it wasn’t the slanted Asian eyes or cookie cutter features white people have or that shrill Hispanic hyena laugh (yeah, it hurts when people make assumptions about your person and use them against you doesn’t it?). The girl didn’t say “hey Negro.” There was no black person. It was a mentally handicapped boy washing the windows. It was “Hey retard” I removed the word retard. I removed the word that destroys the dignity of our most innocent. I removed the single most hateful word in the entire English language. I don’t understand why we use the word; I don’t think I ever will. In such an era of political correctness, why is it that retard is still ok? Why do we allow it? Why don’t we stop using the word? Maybe students can’t handle stopping – I hope that offends you students, it was meant to – but I don’t think the adults, here can either. Students, look at your teacher, look at every member of this faculty. I am willing to bet that every one of them would throw a fit if they heard the word faggot or nigger – hell the word Negro – used in their classroom. But how many of them would raise a finger against the word retard? How many...
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