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Beyoncé removing offensive term from new album ‘Renaissance’ after backlash

US singer Beyoncé.

US singer Beyoncé.

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Beyoncé is removing an offensive term for disabled people from the lyrics of her new album, “Renaissance”, after a furious backlash from campaigners.

The multi-Grammy winner announced the move on Monday after it was called “ableist” and “offensive” by disability charities and activists.

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In the song “Heated”, co-written with rapper Drake, Beyoncé, 40, used a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, in the lines: “Spazzing on that a**, spaz on that a**.”

A representative for the musician told Insider on Monday the lyric will be changed, saying: “The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”

In June, musician Lizzo, 34, was also criticised for using the same term in the song “Grrrls” from her new album, “Special”.

She apologised and replaced the lyric, saying she had never wanted to “promote derogatory language”, adding: “As a fat black woman in America, I have had many hurtful words used against me, so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally, or in my case, unintentionally.)”

In the UK, the controversial term in question is widely considered offensive, placing second in a 2003 BBC survey of the most offensive terms in Britain relating to anyone with a disability.

But in the US it still appears in more common use.

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Australian writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney said Beyoncé’s commitment to musical and visual storytelling did not “excuse her use of ableist language – language that gets used and ignored all too often”.

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

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Diviney said about Lizzo’s use of the term: “I thought we’d changed the music industry and started a global conversation about why ableist language – intentional or not – has no place in music. But I guess I was wrong.”

UK disability charity Sense initially tweeted about Beyoncé’s “Heated”, saying it was “disappointing that another artist is using an offensive term in their song so soon after it was pointed out how hurtful the word is”, and called for “more education to improve awareness of disability”.

They have praised her for agreeing to change the lyric, saying: “Beyoncé has a history of championing inclusivity, and we’re happy that she’s listened to feedback and agreed to re-record the lyric that many disabled people find offensive.

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“We recognise that the word was not used intentionally to cause harm, but words have power and can reinforce negative attitudes marginalised groups face.

“We want to thank Beyoncé for listening and look forward to getting on with enjoying the record.”

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