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Beyoncé vows to change ‘Renaissance’ lyric amid backlash from disability community

A woman posing on the floor in a black cowboy hat and bodysuit
Beyoncé appears in promotional artwork for her new album, “Renaissance.”
(Carlijn Jacobs)

Beyoncé has vowed to alter the lyrics to one of her new songs after receiving criticism from the disability community.

In a statement released Monday, a representative for the Grammy winner confirmed she will change the words to “Heated,” a track from her seventh studio album, “Renaissance,” that includes an ableist slang term for “spastic.”

“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” read the statement from Beyoncé's team, obtained by Variety.

After “Renaissance” debuted late Thursday night, several disability advocates condemned “Heated” for its offensive language on social media. For context, the song contains the lyric, “S—zin’ on that a—, s—z on that a—.”

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A particular line in Lizzo’s new song, ‘GRRRLS,’ was labeled an ‘ableist slur.’ Learning from the criticism, the body-positive singer changed the lyric.

The Bey backlash ensued about a month after Lizzo apologized for using the same slur in her song “GRRRLS,” which she promptly tweaked.

“So @Beyonce used the word ‘s—z’ in her new song Heated,” tweeted disability advocate Hannah Diviney, who penned a column for the Guardian about Lizzo’s and Beyoncé's back-to-back offenses. “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.”

“It’s very hard to believe neither Beyoncé nor anyone in her team didn’t recognise the ableist slur when Lizzo very publicly made the same mistake a month ago (and graciously corrected it),” tweeted “Crippled” author Frances Ryan. “Exhausting.”

In her own Twitter thread about the “Heated” discourse, disability lifestyle expert Ola Ojewumi called on the white disabled community to “confront its racism” and pointed out that “the same criticism is not reserved for white artists who use ableist language.”

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“As a Black disabled woman, I see how Lizzo, Beyonce, and Black women artists are targeted and accused of ableism,” Ojewumi tweeted.

“Beyonce has been inclusive her entire career. She was one of the first artists to include disabled women models like @jilly_peppa and @aaronphilipxo in her fashion campaigns before it was popular. Your faves could never.”

Additionally, Ojewumi credited Beyoncé with “breaking down barriers for disabled people in the LGBT community” and using her able-bodied privilege “to combat ableism.”

“Y’all not fitting to come for my queen w/ thinly veiled racism disguised as ‘fighting ableist language.’ Black disabled women have been dealing with racism from disabled whites for years. We know this is about policing Black women singers in the way you can’t do to white artists.”

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After Diviney and others called her out in June, Lizzo proved she was “dedicated to being part of the change” by altering the lyrics to “GRRRLS” from “I’m a s—z” to “Hold me back.”

“As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I [understand] the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally),” Lizzo said at the time.

“This is the result of me listening and taking action.”

Beyoncé released “Renaissance” to rave reviews and social media fervor after weeks of anticipation.

‘Renaissance’ reveals a depth of knowledge regarding rhythm and harmony that puts her as an arranger and bandleader on a level with Prince and Stevie Wonder.

The Beyhive buzz continued into Sunday, when the singer dropped a trippy visualizer for the album’s lead single, “Break My Soul.” In the moving image, Beyoncé can be seen posing in a winged black cowboy hat and matching bodysuit on a giant, neon billboard.

After the album leaked online less than two days prior to its release, Queen Bey issued a statement thanking her loyal followers for their patience, “love and protection.”

“The album leaked, and you all actually waited until the proper release time so you all can enjoy it together,” Beyoncé wrote.

“I’ve never seen anything like it ... I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early. It means the world to me. Thank you for your unwavering support.”


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