People in their neighborhood vandalized this family’s home after seeing the two children they had just adopted. Should the people responsible for this hate crime go to prison?
One morning, the Hollis family awoke to a disturbing surprise. Hate graffiti was strewn across their property. “We live in a small town in Central Illinois and woke one morning in April 2011 to find our home and cars had been spray painted,” mother Anne Hollis told Everyone Matters.
The hate-filled words they found spray-painted on their home included “RET*RD” and “Get Outta Town.” The attack against the Hollis family occurred because their two adopted daughters from Ukraine have Down Syndrome, according to Little Things. “That day changed my life forever,” recalled Anne Hollis.
Anne’s two sons, then aged 6 and 7, wanted to fight back by making a video to “speak up for our sisters,” the boys said. The video that they made with the help of their parents called on the public to stop using the word “ret*rd.”
In the video, the boys hold up index cards that read, “For Meg and Alina,” after sharing what happened to their home. Then, they continue to use the index cards to make a very powerful statement in honor of their sisters.
The first card the boys hold up at each turn uses a word beginning with “Re,” signaling their future call to stop using the word “ret*rd” to refer to people with Down Syndrome. “Our sisters are…realizing that with some hard work and help they can do anything,” the next cards read.
“Ready to play or dance whenever you are!” the following cards read, as images of Meg and Alina fill the screen. “Reading new words all the time. Reacting with a range of emotions — they are NOT always happy!” the boys explain via their cards. “That is a stereotype about people with Down Syndrome. Don’t believe us? Then you take away Meg’s iPad and see how she reacts!”
Throughout the four-minute video, the boys continue to hold up cards that debunk stereotypes and preconceived notions about people with Down Syndrome. They include how their sisters are reaching new goals all the time, always willing to help a friend, and always available to make you smile.
“Receiving the love and support of many. Thank you,” two of the boys’ cards read. “Refusing to give up! They work hard each day.” As the boys display their cards, the video cuts to pictures of their family. Then, they ask whether the viewer will help their sisters and others with disabilities by pledging not to use the word “ret*rd.”
“They are changing the world! Reducing ignorance, intolerance, and hate,” one of the boys’ cards states in regard to their sisters. “And replacing those ugly things with hope, love and respect.”
The next two cards that appear on the screen make a bold statement with just one word, repeated on each card: “Respect.” Check out the video:
“Our sisters are NOT Ret*rds,” the next cards read, before being torn in half by the boys and leaving any parent or sibling who’s watching the video to imagine the heartache which would inevitably come with hearing your loved one referred to as a “ret*rd.”
It’s clear these two amazing little boys care so greatly about their sisters. Please share this story to spread the message that we should replace this word with the RESPECT that people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities are due.