Beyoncé Is Facing Criticism for Using an Ableist Slur on Renaissance

Photo: Mason Poole

In the days since Beyoncé dropped Renaissance, her first solo album in six years, she’s been criticized for using an ableist slur in one of the album’s songs. “Heated,” which was co-written by Drake, includes the lyric “spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass.”

Disability advocates were quick to speak out against Beyoncé’s use of the word, which is a derogatory term for people with spasticity, a medical condition that affects muscle movement. Others expressed disappointment that Beyoncé did not seem to learn from a similar controversy just a few weeks ago, when Lizzo was criticized after she used the same term in her song “Grrrls.” Hannah Diviney, a disability advocate who has cerebral palsy (which can cause spasticity) and who brought attention to Lizzo’s use of the ableist term, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian that she was “rendered speechless by ignorance” by Beyoncé’s choice to use the same word. “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,” she wrote, expressing her disappointment 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.”

Following criticism from disability advocates, Lizzo released a new version of “Grrrls” with the word removed, writing on Twitter, “I never want to promote derogatory language.” “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally),” she said. It appears Beyoncé also plans to change her lyrics. Representatives for the singer said in a statement to Insider that the word was “not used intentionally in a harmful way” and will be replaced. The Cut has reached out to Beyoncé’s representation for more details and will update this post when we hear back.

Beyoncé Is Facing Criticism for Using an Ableist Slur