My husband Jim and I cannot imagine life without our son Charlie, who is 13 1/2 years old and on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum.
I do have to say, when Charlie was diagnosed with autism just around his second birthday in 1999, we felt we were looking into a black hole of hopelessness. If I had known we would have to go through some of things we have, I would have told you, I can’t, I can’t. Life with Charlie is not easy, but every single moment is worth it, and is a privilege.
So I was not happy—ok, outraged—to see a greeting card that out and out makes fun of individuals with Down Syndrome and developmental disabilities on Etsy, the ecommerce site for buying and selling handmade products from clothes to furniture to cookies.
The card is listed as item #60053498 by a seller, Derrick Clark, whose username is ‘youstupidb[****].’ It contains the phrase ‘CONGRATULATIONS / Your kid has Down Syndrome’; a drawing of a teenager/adult with the facial characteristics associated with Down Syndrome; and a speech bubble saying ‘I can count to potato!’ A review of some of the seller’s other items (none have yet sold and the seller, who joined Etsy in late October of this year, has not yet sold anything) suggests that the intent of youstupidb[****]‘s products is to offend.
I have written to Etsy and asked them to consider taking down item #60053498. I learned about the card from my friend Erika who wrote to the Etsy support teams and was told that ‘they will take a close look at the matter.’
I truly hope they do.
Should Etsy remove the card, I hope that the company will take the time to think about what sorts of items, with what sorts of messages, are sold on the site. Even if no one buys item #60053498, by allowing the seller to list such a card, Etsy has provided a showcase for many all around the world to view a hateful and discriminatory message.
Due to Charlie’s needs, it’s basically impossible to do any shopping (beyond groceries) in ‘bricks and mortar’ sort of stores. I’ve much appreciated Etsy and its community of makers and artists. But encountering an item such as item #60053498 has given me many second thoughts about the site.
It took years for Charlie to be able to say ‘potato.’ Without years of education and therapy starting when he was two years old, he may not even have been able to talk at all.
Yes, I ‘heart handmade,’ but there’s a boy who’s very close to my heart, and I can’t—-we all can’t—-stand to see him and individuals like him be the source of someone’s fun, and profit.
Photo by ilovememphis.