Beyoncé to Remove Ableist Slur From 'HEATED'
Music

Beyoncé to Remove Ableist Slur From 'HEATED'

by Kenna McCafferty

After receiving backlash from disability activists and organizations, Beyoncé’s team confirmed that they will re-release the song "HEATED" off of her new album RENAISSANCE, removing an offensive ableist term. The track, co-written by Drake, uses the derogatory term for spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.

“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” a representative told Insider in a statement.

The lyric, “sp*zzing on that ass, sp*z on that ass” was criticized for its use of derogatory language and we can’t help but wonder where Beyoncé’s team was when Lizzo received the same criticism for using the term in “GRRRLS." When the song was first released in June, a viral tweet by Australian writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney explained the term’s harmful use against people, like her, with spastic diplegia.

Lizzo was quick to respond, issuing an apology and promising a re-issue of the song removing the harmful language.

Just over a month later, Beyoncé’s “HEATED” is under similar fire. While Lizzo’s oversight and response felt, to many, like progress towards a more inclusive vocabulary in popular music, Beyoncé’s repeat "mistake" strikes a painful chord for some.

In an opinion piece for The Guardian Diveny urges the music industry to take notice. “Beyoncé’s commitment to storytelling musically and visually is unparalleled, as is her power to have the world paying attention to the narratives, struggles and nuanced lived experience of being a black woman — a world I can only ever understand as an ally, and have no desire to overshadow,” Diveny wrote.

“But that doesn’t excuse her of ableist language — language that gets used and ignored all too often,” Diveny added. “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.”

Beyoncé’s use of the term was unintentional, as her representative put it, but activists are prompting pop stars to be proactively remove harmful language, instead of waiting until they are called, urging able-bodied fans to be more conscious listeners.

Photo via Getty/ Kevin Mazur

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