Beyoncé removes ableist slur from latest single

Beyoncé removes ableist slur in song from latest album


Beyoncé has removed an ableist slur in a song from her new album after backlash erupted on social media from disability advocates.

The song, Heated, one of sixteen tracks off the 40-year old’s latest album Renaissance contained the lyrics:

“Sp*zin’ on that ass, sp*z on that ass/ Fan me quick, girl, I need my glass.” 

Representatives for the multi-Grammy winner announced they will remove the word from the song. 

“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” the representatives told  NY Post and Insider. 

“The road to success is always under construction.”

Disability activist Hannah Diviney said she was “rendered speechless” by the singer’s “ignorance” in an Op Ed she penned for Hire Up, later republished in the Guardian

Diviney said that despite Beyoncé’s obvious musical ingenuity, it “… doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language – language that gets used and ignored all too often.”

“Language you can be sure I will never ignore, no matter who it comes from or what the circumstances are,” Diviney said.

“It doesn’t excuse the fact that the teams of people involved in making this album somehow missed all the noise the disabled community made only six weeks ago when Lizzo did the same thing.”

“I’m so tired. Disabled people deserve better. I don’t want to have this conversation again.”

Diviney, Editor In Chief of Missing Perspectives, a publication addressing the marginalisation of women in news, authored a now-viral tweet:

“So @Beyonce used the word ‘spaz’ in her new song Heated. Feels like a slap in the face to me, the disabled community & the progress we tried to make with Lizzo. Guess I’ll just keep telling the whole industry to ‘do better’ until ableist slurs disappear from music.” 

The controversial use of the term “sp*z,” derived from the word “spastic,” is a derogatory insult against people with cerebral palsy or the medical condition, spastic paraplegia – a rare inherited disorder causing weakness and stiffness of the leg muscles.

According to US dictionaries, however, including Merriam-Webster, “spaz” is defined as: “lose physical or emotional control.”

Diviney’s tweet referenced her efforts to have the lyrics changed in a song by Lizzo in June this year.

In her song, ‘GRRRLS’, Lizzo’s lyrics went: “Do you see this s**t? I’m a sp*z.”

The 34-year old rapper released a statement of apology on Twitter, promising to erase the word from the song. 

“It’s been brought to my attention that there are [sic] is a harmful word in my song ‘GRRRLS’,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”

“I’m proud to say there’s a new version of girls with a lyric change. This is the result of me listening and taking action.”

“As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the challenge change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”

In the latest controversy involving Beyoncé however, some black disability activists are criticising the lack of intersectionality regarding the issue.

“The white disabled community needs to confront its racism,” disability lifestyle expert Ola Ojewumi tweeted. 

“As a Black disabled woman, I see how Lizzo, Beyonce, and Black women artists are targeted and accused of ableism. The same criticism is not reserved for white artists who use ableist language.”

“Right now white disabled people are getting paid to write think pieces vilifying the greatest Black millennial performer of our time, Beyonce. Black disabled writers are just sitting here basking in the the irony. Yup, it sounds about white.”

The Washington D.C based activist also responded to Diviney’s Op Ed, tweeting: “This is some bullsh—. There are so many white musicians who’ve used ableist slurs but the only ones being held accountable are Black women singers: Lizzo and Beyoncé. I’m tired of these think pieces that scream white fragility and misogynoir.”

She also followed her response by listing “Hit songs by white musicians w/ableist slurs in the title,” which include: “American Idiot” by Green Day, “Stupid Girls” by Pink, “Crazy” by Britney Spears, and “Schizophrenic”, a 2004 album by American singer-songwriter JC Chasez.

“Where was the outrage then?” Ojewumi asked.

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox