Beyoncé Will Change ‘Heated’ Lyrics Amid Ableism Backlash
The backlash has prompted a conversation on the erasure of Black disabled voices.
Beyoncé will remove an ableist slur from her new track ‘Heated’ after backlash from disability advocates.
The track — released on Friday as part of her new album ‘Renaissance’ — featured the slur, which is a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, two times.
A representative for the music icon announced that the lyric would be changed, stressing that the word was never intended to cause harm.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” a statement provided to Insider read.
Beyoncé’s lyric comes just six weeks after Lizzo amended her own track, ‘Grrrls’, to remove the same slur after criticism from disability advocates.
Advocates were quick to express their disappointment with the hugely influential singer for continuing to use the word so soon after Lizzo’s track — and subsequent apology — made headlines.
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 💔
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) July 30, 2022
Both Beyoncé and Lizzo’s apologies stressed that the word was never intended to cause offence or harm, which has prompted a broader conversation regarding the word and its use in AAVE.
Black disabled activist Vilissa Thompson argued that the conversation surrounding Lizzo’s lyric was dominated by white people, who were unable to understand the intersectionality and nuance of the situation.
“The erasure of Black disabled people, when it comes to a Black entertainer, has been very prominent throughout this whole thing,” Thompson, who also works as a social worker, told NPR at the time.
Social media users have also been quick to point out the fact that two Black women have been criticised, while white musicians who use ableist language are rarely questioned.
The white disabled community needs to confront its racism.
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. https://t.co/edhuxiLu3T
— Ola Ojewumi (@Olas_Truth) August 1, 2022
The double standard was also stressed by Thompson in the aftermath of Lizzo’s backlash, in which she pointed out that Black women are generally not given room to correct their mistakes and do better.
“Grace and room for correction are typically not given [to Black people]. The double standard of inconsistent reactions is profound. They don’t trust Black people to do the right thing,” she told NPR.
At the time of publishing, the ‘Heated’ lyric has not been changed on streaming services.
Beyonce is yet to personally comment on the situation.