Beyoncé’s new album, Renaissance, was just released on Friday and it’s already taken over our lives. However, the project is not without controversy.
According to Variety, the Grammy-winner is receiving backlash for one of the lyrics in the song “Heated.” Disability advocates are calling the song offensive and ableist for featuring the word “spaz.” The song includes the line, “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass.” Spastic is a medical term for disabilities that make it hard to control one’s muscles.
The “Freedom” singer and her team have confirmed that the word will be removed and the line changed.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” Beyoncé’s team said in a statement.
I know Beyoncé takes great pains to make her projects inclusive, so I’m assuming this was just a blind spot that she didn’t know she had. However, this is the second high-profile instance of a superstar singer coming under fire for using this specific word in their music.
In June, Lizzo was criticized for using the same word in her song “GRRRLS.” She originally sang, “Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag/ Do you see this shit? I’m a spaz.” After receiving push back from the disability community the “Truth Hurts” singer changed the line to “Hold my bag, bitch, Hold my bag/ Do you see this shit? Hold me back.”
Since Lizzo just went through this two months ago, it seems like the “Break My Soul” singer should have been ready for something similar.
As a Black woman with disabilities, I’ve gotten very good at spotting the difference between those who simply don’t care about disability issues and those who just made an honest mistake. Trust me, it gets pretty clear, pretty quick. While I have no doubt that Beyoncé is in the latter category, it is exhausting to constantly explain why certain words and jokes hurt.
And in case you’re reading this and can’t wait to get your comments off about being “overly sensitive” and “too woke,” let me remind you that ableist behavior isn’t new, we’re just finally letting you know we won’t stay quiet and take it anymore.
This is not a shot against Beyoncé because she’s amazing. Just a friendly reminder/warning for the next person I have to write one of these stories about.