Beyoncé has confirmed she will remove a term offensive to people with disabilities from the lyrics of her new album, Renaissance, after it was called “capable” and “offensive” by charities and disability activists.
In the song Heated, co-written with Canadian rapper Drake, Beyoncé used a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. A rep for the musician told Insider that the lyrics will be changed. “The word, not intentionally used in a harmful manner, will be replaced,” the statement read.
In June, American musician Lizzo was also arrested for using the same term in the song Grrrls, from her new album Special. After a quick reaction, Lizzo apologized and replaced the lyrics, saying she never meant to “promote derogatory language” and adding, “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had a lot of hurtful words used against me, so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally or, in my case, unintentionally.)”
In the UK, the term in question is widely seen as offensive. In 2003 it came second in a BBC survey of the most offensive terms in the UK about anyone with a disability. In the United States, however, it still appears in more common use.
Australian writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney was among the first to call out Lizzo as her tweet went viral. Writing in the Guardian on Monday, Diviney lamented seeing the same situation happening again so soon. “I thought we changed the music industry and started a global conversation about why ableist language – intentional or not – has no place in music,” Diviney wrote. “But I guess I was wrong.”
Beyoncé’s commitment to musical and visual storytelling does “not excuse her use of ableist language — language that is too often used and ignored,” Diviney wrote. “A language that you can be sure I will never ignore, no matter who it comes from or what the circumstances are.”
UK disability charity Sense originally tweeted of Beyoncé’s Heated that it was ‘disappointing another artist would use an offensive term in their song so soon after pointing out how hurtful the word is “, and called for “more education to raise awareness of disability”.
They later praised her for agreeing to change the lyrics. “Beyoncé has always stood for inclusivity, and we’re glad she listened to the feedback and agreed to re-record the lyrics that many people with disabilities find offensive. We recognize that the word was not intentionally used to cause harm. , but words have power and can reinforce negative attitudes faced by marginalized groups.
“We want to thank Beyoncé for listening and we look forward to continuing to enjoy the record.”