Just weeks after Lizzo used a slur in her song “Grrrls,” which she’s since removed, Beyoncé appears to have made the same mistake in one of her latest tracks, “Heated.” After receiving backlash, a spokesperson for the singer released a statement saying the lyric would be removed. The lyric in question is currently, “Sp-zzin’ on that a–, sp-z on that a–/ Fan me quick, girl, I need my glass.”
Australian writer, Hannah Diviney, wrote an op-ed for Hireup criticizing Bey’s use of the slur. She also expressed her frustration with the music industry. The article gained traction after being picked up by The Guardian.
[It] 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.
Beyoncé is far from being the only artists to ever use the term. In fact, it’s extremely prevalent in hip-hop. However, as Diviney points out, Beyoncé is one of the most influential artists of this generation. She is a cultural icon, and that title comes with responsibility.
The History Of Spastic As A Slur In The US And The UK
Social media users have exchanged words across multiple platform on whether it’s ever appropriate to use the word. Some argue, just because it’s a slur in the overseas, doesn’t mean it’s a slur in the US. Some go as far as to say it’s a term used in AAVE—African-American Vernacular English—and we shouldn’t punish Black artists. However, this is ahistorical. The term “sp-z” comes from the shortened version of the condition spastic paralysis. Even the positive context ascribed to the term, as it means to “go crazy or wild” on the beat, directly refers to the movements of a person with the condition. International disability advocates explained the history of the term, yet some people still struggle to understand how the term is offensive.
Other Artists Who Have Changed Lyrics
Lizzo and Beyoncé aren’t the first artists who have had to change problematic lyrics. Some artists who have adjusted or removed offensive lyrics include Taylor Swift, Future, Michael Jackson, and the Black Eyed Peas. Some used slurs for the LGBTQ community, others used racial slurs. One of the Black Eyed Peas biggest hits, “Let’s Get it Started,” originally contained a slur in the title and chorus. The group received backlash even back then. With this happening to two of the biggest artists right now, maybe we’ll see a big change in the music industry. Until then, advocates, and allies for the disabled community will continue to let their voices be heard.