The latest in the “My Turn” series of opinion columns in the Greenfield Recorder. The full piece can be read here. An excerpt is below:
There are many words I heard growing up in Turners Falls. Seen as somehow less offensive than the traditional four-letter cuss words, words to describe the intellectually or developmentally disabled, gay people, and poor people, were thrown around like confetti. These words were often tolerated by the adults around us, in the school hallways, well into the ’90s when I attended Turners Falls High School.
You remember. I am sure that many of you would be horrified if you heard your child call a friend the “f” or “r” word now. Admitting this evolution in thinking doesn’t mean I have bad feelings about growing up in Turners Falls. And it doesn’t make us weak to admit that if we used them before, we were wrong. It’s part of an emotional and cultural evolution that we don’t stand for people talking like that anymore. I remind you to illustrate how things change, people evolve and learn, and we all become more tolerant and thoughtful.
I am a proud third-generation TFHS graduate. I wore the blue and white for four varsity sports, with so much pride. I was a cheerleader, doing the tomahawk chop on that track on a Saturday morning in autumn. I was a class president, a representative in Washington, D.C., for young leaders, a student rep on the School Committee in 1991.