Beyonce apologizes for using ableist slur, will replace it in song

Beyonce’s long-awaited seventh album is making another, not-so-positive headline. One of the songs on the track list, “Heated,” includes a lyric that uses an ableist slur. The song lyric has already resulted in an op-ed from a disability advocate and Beyonce’s reps have confirmed that the lyric will be changed.

Beyoncé dropped her seventh solo album, Renaissance, on Friday. It was a big deal.

One of the album’s songs, “Heated,” includes the lyric “Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass” — and “sp*z” is a word that is largely seen by the disabled community as an ableist slur.

Beyoncé has faced some criticism as a result — including an op-ed in the Guardian from disability advocate Hannah Diviney, who says “my heart sank” when she heard the word used on the album.

“I’m so tired,” Hannah wrote in her essay. “Disabled people deserve better. I don’t want to have this conversation again.”

Now, in a statement to Insider, Beyoncé’s representatives have confirmed that the lyric will be changed.

“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” the statement said.

This isn’t the first time a pop star has made such a move. Last month, Lizzo announced she was removing the same word from her single “Grrrls” after receiving backlash upon its release.

“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” she wrote in a statement at the time. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”

Lizzo’s decision came after she faced significant criticism from disability advocates — including Hannah, who said that hearing the word in “Grrrls” made her “pretty angry [and] sad.”

[From Buzzfeed]

Beyonce’s reps also said that the word wasn’t used in an intentionally harmful way. Okay, obviously. The Insider article says: “The word has been used to refer in a derogatory way to people with disabilities, especially people with cerebral palsy. In African American Vernacular English, a dialect of English created and used in Black communities, the word means to ‘go crazy’ or ‘fight.'” And full disclosure, until recently I didn’t know that word was considered a slur either. It wasn’t part of my vocabulary, but I thought it was more similar to klutz or clumsy and didn’t realize it was offensive. However, I learned when the same thing happened to Lizzo in June: she used it in a song, was called out, apologized, and removed it from her song, “GRRRLS.” And that’s the thing here with Beyonce’s gaffe: it just happened to Lizzo, not even two months ago. If Beyonce didn’t know the word was offensive, that’s an honest mistake. But not realizing and keeping it in there after a recently publicized incident with the same word, in the same small industry, is complete carelessness. How did this get through the layers of approval? Does Beyonce’s team not monitor music industry news and chatter? They should keep a better eye on these things because I seriously doubt anyone on Beyonce’s team wanted her album to be associated with this kind of controversy.

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109 Responses to “Beyonce apologizes for using ableist slur, will replace it in song”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I did not realize the term was a slur either until about a year or so ago, I have a friend whose son has CP and she has talked a lot about how hurtful the term is. She was very pleased with Lizzo’s response, which is what puzzles me so much about this with Beyonce. No one on Bey’s team followed the Lizzo controversy, thought “hey we have a song with the exact same term, maybe we should change it too?” I’m glad she’s changing it at this point, but just kind of scratching my head that it got this far. Maybe her team is just really insulated?

    • XOXO says:

      I don’t follow news on Lizzie, so I completely missed that gaffe. Until 2 days ago, I had no idea that word was considered a slur. I have used it before, in context of “crazy acting” friends, and would never have associated with disabled people.

      I obviously, will not use it again.

      • Regina Falangie says:

        Whoa, I also had no idea it was a slur! I’ve used that word to describe myself many times, in the meaning I always thought it meant: crazy acting/all over the place/overly energetic. I will work to remove that from my vocabulary.

        I’m also trying to remove l*me (rhymes with same) for the same reason. I grew up with both words and I have to check myself frequently to avoid them.

        I don’t want to hurt anyone so I can take a few seconds to think before I speak.

        T is it True

        H is it Helpful

        I is it Inspiring

        N is it Necessary

        K is it Kind

    • Andrew's_Nemesis says:

      It’s got her more publicity for a pretty dire album, though. I just think that everything Beyonce does is very calculated. Heresy around here, I know.

      • Yeha says:

        Hi disagree,her album is actually amazing!
        One of her best ones

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        bey has some amazing full albums. This doesn’t touch those imo and it’s not getting the same hype as say… Lemonade or I Am Sasha Fierce.

        Andrew’s nemesis
        Everything Beyoncé does is very calculated. Which makes me lean towards her putting so much responsibility on this albums creation and success on others.

      • Poppies says:

        I thought the same thing as well. She had to have known about the Lizzo controversy.
        I can’t comment though on whether the album is good or not as I am not a Beyoncé fan and don’t like a lot of her music.

    • MeganC says:

      The word is short for spastic. I’ve known it was a slur against people with disabilities since the 1970s.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Same here, only a decade earlier. It’s one of those hurtful words you hear thrown around the playground then you grow up & learn just how and why it’s a hurtful word & you stop using it. Most of us, anyway.

      • Becks1 says:

        I understand now what it’s short for, but I didn’t before the last year or so. I never really used it anyway but now I definitely don’t. Good for those who’ve known it was a slur for longer.

      • Ennie says:

        I am foreign and English is not my first language. I have known about that word for a while (years).

      • CocofromCanada says:

        Yes. Mom of kid with intellectual disabilities. The r word (and libtard etc) is so hurtful

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        In most health care training workshops it’s been listed as a banned word for those reasons.

        I’ve never known the word to be used in a positive way. It’s always negative and I think our minds gloss over that.

      • Poppies says:

        Same here. I am 48 and for as long as I can remember spaz is short for spastic and is a slur.

  2. M says:

    Good. Now when is she gonna apologize to Kelis and pay up?

    • Ameerah says:

      Pay up what? Kelis doesn’t own the rights to the song. Pharrell does. So Kelis should ask Pharrel to pay up.

      • Both Sides Now says:

        Thank you!!! Her constant bitching about having been ripped off every day, when I has been clearly established Bey didn’t, you would think she could catch the clue….

        I too was unaware that that word was a slur. Now I know!!

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        Kelis blazed a huge trail. She also got screwed over a lot, but because of that women like Beyoncé got to learn from her and how she was treated. Beyoncé could acknowledge this.

      • Coko says:

        Kelis is only 2 years older than Beyonce. The Knowles family was hustling a whole decade before Kelis even released an album. The idea that somehow Kelis is Beyonce’s elder and that Beyonce was taking notes from her is ahistorical and hysterical. Why would she be looking down from the top of the charts? She has been outselling and outcharting Kelis her whole career.

    • BCX says:

      I’ve worked full on with special needs kids (in education) for years, including CP kids and other diagnoses, I hadn’t heard that word is controversial either, till now. (R word, and its derivatives, of course yes)

      • WingKingdom says:

        And now it is time for you to learn person-first language.

      • VoominVava says:

        @WingKingdom: I had never heard of person-first language, thank you for bringing it to my attention as I had to google it. I am a mom of an 11 year old son with autism and still have to constantly tell people how hurtful the R word is. As a kid growing up in Ontario in the 80’s, we knew that the R word and Spaz were insults to the kids who were different and that’s why I wasn’t allowed to say them. I didn’t want to, mind you, but my parents made sure I didn’t. I tell people as soon as that R starts to come out of your mouth, change it to ridiculous. It works! Eventually it will be natural.

        As for Beyonce, I highly doubt she didn’t know. If she did, she would have had a thoughtful statement at the ready, like Lizzo’s. I really appreciated Lizzo’s wording and response. Beyonce would want to one up Lizzo and be even MORE thoughtful and she just wasn’t. I can’t with her.

  3. Nancy says:

    As the grandparent of a child with CP it saddens me that someone with as public a platform as Beyoncé is ignorant enough to just go ahead and use a slur instead of going to whoever wrote those lyrics and refusing to use that slur in the first place. It just shows that privately those types of words don’t bother her. Trying to find an upside perhaps this will spotlight the normalization that such words had in past and teach people to do better. To be better than this.

    • Ameerah says:

      I didn’t realize it was a slur until recently. In the black community it’s used to describe wanting to fight. So I had no idea that it was ableist. And when I did I stopped using it. Not everyone knows the history behind certain words. For instance I just found out that idiot and moron uses to be used to describe the mentally ill. We all have a learning curve.

      • Concern Fae says:

        Not surprised that the article is from the UK. I think some of it is that the word “spastic” to refer to someone disabled wasn’t really ever used officially in the US, unlike in the UK. So “spaz” became slang with being as closely tied to cerebral palsy. More about being clumsy or out of control. At least that was the usage I grew up with. With the internet, words have become universal, so you have to pay attention to where words came from.

      • Jennifer says:

        “Spastic” isn’t used in the US. You never hear it. I had no clue this was a bad word/ what it was actually referring to for YEARS. Sounds like it’s a slur in the UK and not here.

      • Kaykay says:

        I’ve never heard the term before and it’s clearly obvious they didn’t use it in the same derogatory way it’s used by some people. Letters and sounds have different meanings in different communities and languages. If it’s meant to hurt someone it’s understandable that one could take offence, but somewhere we should draw the line on how much we are able to control what other people say over controlling our own feelings instead. It wasn’t meant to be hurtful. I’d say, why not take the opportunity to give the word a new meaning. Give them a break.

    • Lizzie says:

      I never knew people have high expectations of Beyonce, either in terms of her music or her politics. She is clearly pedaling what ever sells, regardless if its politically abject. To be “sad” because Beyonce doesnt give a hoot, seems bizarre, because she never tried to say anything political anyway. Her game is to estheticize the black struggle (like using images that evoke NOLA under water, while singing about BJs and her expensive clothes) without contributing to it in any way.

  4. Smart&Messy says:

    Is she doing something differently with her make up? Because she looks a bit like Shakira these days.

    Is it still offensive if it means something completely different in the context of the song? That’s what her team is saying, right? English is not my first language (obviously), so someone please enlighten me.

    • Smart&Messy says:

      Having read some of your comments, I get it now. It’s offensive no matter how she tries to explain it.

      I still stand by me observation that she looks different and reminds me of Shakira.

    • Fabiola says:

      I thought it always meant freak out. I never associated the word with CP or making fun of anyone with CP. I don’t know why people are assuming the worst about Beyoncé. I’m not a fan but do people actually think she made a song to make fun of people with CP. I doubt it. Most likely like the rest of us she did not know it’s association with CP. In all honesty I don’t think most people do or even know much about CP to know why the slur is even linked to CP.

    • Lizzie says:

      I think she looks like somebody’s aunt.

  5. SAS says:

    I mean, I assume everything was already laid down when the Lizzo thing happened and re-recording would have pushed back her planned release date.

    But she really weighed up the cost/time of re-recording and thought “nah I’m different”? Not to re-litigate what was said in the Lizzo comment thread but that term is for sure a gut punch to some people, I feel bad for any Beyoncé fans caught off guard listening to it.

    • Tee says:

      This is where I am with it. There is absolutely no way there was no one on her team who knew about this. If someone said Beyonce didn’t know, I’d call them a liar. So they kept the slur in, allowed it to be published and cause harm to those it directly affects and then offer up regrets. Something in the milk ain’t clean.

    • Susie Q says:

      That’s what I don’t get. Beyonce has her stuff locked down. If she’s not listening to the news, someone on her team is. Someone heard about the Lizzo situation and didn’t think to change one word?

  6. C-Shell says:

    The term has been a slur for decades, so even looking at it through an AAVE lens, with the Lizzo controversy so fresh how could Bey’s producers not have caught this? Following so closely after the Kellis stumble, this release is looking sloppy, and it’s not like they rushed it, so WTF?

  7. Noki says:

    No way someone of Beyonces star power would have initially had or even keep that word in there unintentionally.

  8. Jewell says:

    It’s a bit confusing to me because spasticity is the medical term for tight muscles in cerebral palsy but “spaz” means you behave erratically. Even though it’s not what they meant I’m glad Lizzie and Beyoncé decided to change the lyrics because i think they both are more about empowerment and not about offending disabled people.

    • Fineskylark says:

      Spastic muscles can spasm or contract, which makes their movement erratic.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Yes, it DOES mean that, but the term “s**z itself was always used as a hurtful, derogatory word.

  9. HeatherC says:

    (This comment was to a now deleted (?) comment but it still stands for me. I’m a mom of a child on the spectrum, I’ve learned a lot how language can affect him)

    The ableist slurs are the last to come to light. We know what words offend the black population, the Hispanic population, the Jewish population, the LGBTQ+ population, but words like “sp*z,” “cripple,” “ret*rd,” “moron….” they’re still a part of every day vocabulary and to the disabled population, can make them feel abnormal, not on the same level as “normal” people, especially when the word can have a different context.

    Like calling someone “lame” can mean you think they’re uncool, unpleasant… generally negative things. But it has also been a term used to describe someone with a physical disability, like a “Lame leg.”

    • MAK says:

      I hear you… my father had polio.. the word hurt me…

    • VoominVava says:

      I also have a child with autism and it hurts me. My son is possibly on a different level of the spectrum than your child, and wouldn’t understand someone was being insulting to him but my heart hurts doubly when it happens as I hurt for myself and for him.
      As for ‘lame’, I spent years training my best friend to stop using ‘gay’ as a slur for saying something was stupid, etc. It still slips out every now and again and she truly never meant anything by it.. it was just what they all said in her high school in the 90’s.

    • Diamond Rottweiler says:

      This 💯. It’s astonishing to me how acceptable such slurs still are toward disabled people. And the bigoted language is still often institutionalized. I just spent the last few days getting the forms for proxy rights when communicating about medical care changed at my son’s hospital, as they refer to those simply requiring necessary accommodations as “Incompetent Adults.” 🙄. I’m glad this conversation is finally getting real attention. These kinds of micro aggressions cause very real pain to disabled people.

  10. C says:

    Tons of people use offensive terms on a daily basis and have no idea about their offensive connotations – gyp (for gypsy), gimpy, peanut gallery, moron and often, people find the terms “stupid”. “crazy”, or “nuts” ableist as well (which I don’t blame them for). She did something ignorant (and given it happened to Lizzo too, definitely careless) and owned up to it and changed it at least.

    • A says:

      “rule of thumb” is another extremely commonly used one.

      “Lame”, “idiot”, “moron”, are all ableist slurs as well.

  11. Owlsyn says:

    Was Beyonce one of the 20 or 30 writers on *this* song? Girl, you want credit, then you better take credit.

  12. Amy Bee says:

    Somebody on her team or her record label effed up. As soon as the Lizzo controversy broke somebody should’ve checked the lyrics on Beyonce’s album to see if that slur was in any of her songs.

  13. LovelyRita says:

    Ok, I just learned that peanut gallery was offensive! I always associated it with children sitting up high at the movies and throwing peanuts down. Now I understand that it makes reference to Jim Crow laws and that African Americans had to sit there (I knew about the balcony rules but never thought it was called the peanut gallery in those times.) I’m a social worker and thus have studied bigotry and try to always incorporate non-violent, non-offensive speech, and I just learned this today. As Maya Angelou said with such grace, “When you know better, do better.” I can afford Beyoncé the same grace.

    • jr says:

      Spaz is a word we used 40 years ago. Don’t know how anyone didn’t know that it was ableist. BUT “peanut gallery”?! Thank you so much for including this information. I had no idea. Lately, I’ve been googling and researching “expression” before I use them…

    • C says:

      Yep. And phrases like “no can do” or “long time no see” originated from making fun of Asian immigrants.
      And “cakewalk” for its history on slave plantations and part of minstrel shows.

      • Anna B says:

        Ohhh woah I didn’t know any of those. Thank you! I’ve definitely used the first two never ever realizing the history.

      • outoftheshadows says:

        The etymology of “picnic” is gruesome and it has completely changed the way I feel about that activity. America is full of language that shows our racism, ableism, sexism, etc. It’s a minefield.

      • Owlsyn says:

        Out of the Shadows, I know exactly what you are referring to, and that was a poorly played hoax / false information. I remember my ex husband heard it on the radio years ago.

  14. HeyKay says:

    There is absolutely No.Way.In.Hell that the writers of this song did not know that this word is a slur to the disabled community. No damn way.

    IMO, Bey either did not care, used it for shock value, or even worse used it on purpose to draw publicity.
    That’s where we are these days, anything goes as long as you get PR and money.

    Also, are these the lyrics of popular music now? It all sounds like sex club music.
    Remember when Lenny Kravitz got heat for the lyrics “We got to love and rub-a-dub” the internet was busy laughing for days at rub-a-dub, Sesame Street words, etc., etc. 😀

    Bey is over rated as a singer anyhow.

  15. embo says:

    I have honestly only ever heard of the term “spaz” to mean short for “spastic”. as in “he is spazzing out”. like if I got tickets to a concert and was like “WOOHOO YAY!” and ran around and jumped about happily. maybe the meaning has changed over time. glad to learn something new.

    • embo says:

      Looked into the history of the term now and i am enlightened. it seems the term is specifically to cerebral palsy. so that is where the offense comes from. good to know. i just thought it was more generally referring to spasms of any origin (like excitement or even just leg twitching from nerves or cold or something). never stop learning people! 🙂

      • BeanieBean says:

        While I knew about this offensive term, I didn’t know about others that commenters have been mentioning, so I’ve been googling & learning a lot today, too.

    • Tiffany:) says:

      In the 80s in the United States, it was used very commonly in the way you noted, and I don’t think a lot of people realized the roots of the phrase. But as others have said, when we learn more, we should do better.

  16. Sasha says:

    Maybe it’s different in the UK (where I live), but I haven’t used the word ‘spaz’ in about 20 years. It was extremely common when I was at school but I don’t EVER hear it within my social circle now, it would be a huge no. Maybe the US has been a bit slower to adjust.

    • teehee says:

      Same- this was a trend insult back in the day, but even then, to me it was disassociated from people with disabilities and just flung around as an insult to anyone and anything- similar to the ranks of dweeb or two-shoes, for example.
      I never heard of it being used against anyone with a disability for real, and its a shame if that was the term’s origin. My kid brain just understood it as labeling someone “spastic” in an insulting way but not because those who have disabilities are to be seen as lesser or teased as such, much less called spastics to begin with.
      And my brain definitely didn’t understand that the word lame was the same as crippled/unable back in the day either. It was just a trend word to insult with essentially no meaning and again, no association.
      Interesting, that now the associations are being examined.

  17. Valentina says:

    I have CP and have had spaz and spastic used in a derogatory way against me for as long as I can remember. I really wish there was more education around disability in general, I’m just so tired of having to explain certain things.

    • VoominVava says:

      I’m sorry that has happened to you, Valentina. It’s rude and abhorrent and you don’t deserve it.

  18. Sean says:

    I was born with cerebral palsy and was in special needs classes throughout elementary school. This is honestly the first time I’ve heard that “spaz” is considered a slur against people with physical disabilities, particularly those living with CP. It was always used to describe someone acting irrational. I can see how someone, even a well-known individual may not understand what it means to certain groups.

  19. og bella says:

    Count me in as not knowing spaz is a considered a slur, especially considering my teenagers have educated me on so many words that are deeply ingrained in our collective vocabulary.

    Some words I have trouble removing from my vocabulary; some were easy. R*tar*ded was easy, and that (for me) was years ago. Gypsy was more recent (past 2 years maybe) but it’s one of those words that isn’t used as often enough to bang it in my head to not slip up, but gypped was easier because I used it more often, That was one of those words (again, for me) that I just used without thinking of the origin. Once I understood that Gypsy was a slur, I was like, “holy cr*p, gypped is a really bad word.”

    I resisted accepting it as a slur at first. I never thought it was derogatory. I equated it with a nomad, or a wanderer. One day I was belting out Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves” and my daughter just looked at me and told me to think about the connotation right there in the lyrics and THAT’S how it clicked for me.

    Spaz? oof, that is going to take me longer so that it’s not a “go-to” word. I mean, it’s practically a nickname for me as I am several levels beyond just a klutz. I walk into walls, trip over my own two feet walking a straight line, fall up the stairs. So thinking it through, yeah, it’s derogatory, but being someone whose close friends and family tease each other (not condoning or saying it’s a good thing) it won’t be an easy fix. I (we?) are so conditioned to tease each other.

    Thanks to my kids, I have become a better person and it really opened my eyes how hurtful this behavior is. When it’s the culture that you grew up in, and are surrounded by, it was (and still is at times) my kneejerk response.

    I think one thing that the younger generations don’t understand is when words and actions are so ingrained, it’s hard to come to a full-stop change. I get it. When you know better, you do better, but that doesn’t mean it wont take some time to replace these words with different ones. I get ZERO wiggle room by my kids (which, good for them!) but sometimes it takes time.

    Now peanut gallery? wowza, never once would have thought that could be a negative term. Again, when you know better….

  20. LIONE says:

    Ok but when did Beyonce become so dead eyed? Her photos look like AI not a real person.
    The spark in her eyes is goooone

    • Imara219 says:

      I wish this site posted the selfie she took with her kids while in bed. It was so sweet. Only half of her face showed but definitely not the longing stare she’s doing here.

  21. MangoAngelesque says:

    It’s one thing for everyone saying they didn’t realize it was a slur. Even for people to say they didn’t know and don’t follow Lizzo so didn’t know what JUST went down.

    But, to believe that Beyoncé, of all people, doesn’t have folks in her employ that pay attention to legal controversies of her contemporaries, is ludicrous. The idea that her lawyers, publicists, managers, agents, or regular friends who like music, didn’t hear about Lizzo’s situation and didn’t/couldn’t say something about it, is impossible to believe.

    But when you’re a person who has phrases like “the year of our lord Beyoncé” said about you, you likely think what applies to lesser normal folk doesn’t apply to you. 🤷‍♀️

    • og bella says:

      Agreed. I am one who doesn’t follow Lizzie and didn’t hear of the controversy, but Beyoncé, or someone in her circle, most assuredly should have

  22. Tricia B says:

    Why is this even considered a controversy? She obviously didn’t use it in a derogatory way with ill intent. A lot of words have multiple meanings, especially in the black community. It’s so interesting that it’s these 2 successful black female artists who’ve been singled out for using the word. I think people like to humble black women and it’s frustrating. I dont think this should have ever been a thing but she’s apologized and will change it. Let’s see them find another issue in 3,2,1…

    • HeatherC says:

      It is very much a thing that derogatory terms used to describe the disabled are normalized in culture, through music, literature, TV/movies/plays. The disabled community spans all ethnicities, religions, gender, sexuality and identity. And it should very much be a thing that these terms are no longer used, that a course correction is taken by everybody.

      Especially an artist that influences others as much as an artist like Beyonce does. By using a slur in the lyrics of one of her songs, it’s telling her fans it’s okay to use this. It is NOT okay. It’s not a song that came out 40 years ago before respect for all people was encouraged. It’s a song that came out this year that she or her team should have known better. I find it hard to believe that an artist as big as Beyonce doesn’t have a whole team around her to vet out any legal or other issues . Either this was missed (which is a problem) or it was shrugged off (even worse).

      That she didn’t use it with ill intent is the crux of the matter for me. It is legitimizing a phrase/word that has been used in a derogatory manner for too many years. We talk often on this site about “othering.” The othering of women, the othering of women of color especially. The othering of the disabled, the continued shunting of their existence for the convenience of others is still a staggering disappointment in todays time. We have to do better and yes that means calling it out when we see it. We have to do better.

      (I am the daughter of a physically disabled man and the mother of a developmentally disabled son, that may make me “oversensitive” to language sorry not sorry)

      • Erin says:

        As a mom to a child with disabilities I agree with you 100% and the excuse of “I didn’t mean it in that way.”? Are we still doing that? It’s exhausting.

    • Owlsyn says:

      “Oh, I didn’t mean it in a *bad* way.” is really the defense you’re going to go with? I’m sure that Beyonce, as a black woman, has heard those exact words many times after someone said something completely inappropriate to her.

      • Queen B says:

        She literally DID NOT mean it that way though, as it clearly has a different connotation in her etymology.

    • Imara219 says:

      Tricia, it’s definitely a way to humble successful Black women.

      Concerning some of these other comments, it’s as if white people are monitoring how AAVE terms are used and applied. In Black culture that word has massively different context and use. She used it appropriately as is acceptable for her people etymologically and when she realized the larger culture relates to it as a slur, she noticed the error is still being talked down to by those who don’t know or understand or properly use AAVE.

      • Owlsyn says:

        This is a misinformed take.

        The term sp*z did not grow from nothing within AAVE. It has the exact same origins as it does for the white folk. To go wild, to want to fight, to act crazy, all come from the hurtful slang where it meant to jerk wildly and spasm. Sp*z is ableist in the same way ret*rd is. It is not a white versus black culture issue.

        White people, brown people, and black people should all be helping others to learn when things are hurtful, even if you didn’t “mean it that way”.

      • Imara219 says:

        Owlyns, Black people didn’t invent the word but it does have a different meaning and connotation in AAVE. Using AAVE isn’t just based on words created by Black people it also applies to context and connotative differences. Having said that, Beyonce did the right thing by re-recording the track. For me that’s not up for dispute. I do think the commentary making her the villain is aggressive. Beyonce did the right thing after being made aware but this is something that requires nuance.

      • C says:

        It can also mean “irritating” or “annoying” in AAVE.

      • Owlsyn says:

        Then please, tell me the origins of the word in AAVE. Because I must be misunderstanding this continued defense of using a slur if you don’t mean it as a slur. I mean, since it did not originate from the term spastic in AAVE, where did it come from?

      • C says:

        As Imara stated, AAVE didn’t invent the word. As with so many things regarding linguistics, connotative differences arose through usage in a different cultural community.
        A statement of what it can also mean in AAVE is not a continued defense. It is an explanation of other context.
        Ultimately, given the larger context of the word on the whole, it is a slur that should not have been used. Which is why it’s now no longer part of the song.

        Your point that this word shouldn’t have been used is correct, but the assumption that the context is the same for all audiences is not.

        Another issue is that people tend to seize on these instances to claim that the Black community is less progressive in a lot of ways.

        So, I’m hoping everyone will keep this energy for other examples of this kind of language.

      • Owlsyn says:

        Respectfully, it is not that there is a different meaning in AAVE. It is that the meaning evolved from the exact same disrespectful and ableist place.

        Sp*z , to jerk uncontrollably, or be one who jerks uncontrollably

        LEADS TO

        Sp*z, to act in an excited or exaggerated way, or be one who acts in such a way. The behavior suggests someone in the midst of spasms.

        LEADS TO

        Sp*z, unbecoming, uncontrolled or aggressive behavior.

        That isn’t a different meaning, that is just showing how the meaning shifted. Another example cited elsewhere is Ret*rded. A lot of people in the 80s and 90s used it as slang to mean stupid. It was even used in music as late as the aughts as slang for getting wild. But people woke up to it not being okay, even if it means something different from the original, derogatory intent. It still stems from hurtful, ableist language. If you are making the argument that using the word is a cultural thing, then that culture needs to change.

      • C says:

        Those definitions are quite accurate in the most literal sense. But another issue is that there are a whole lot of words in modern language that are adopted from problematic places. Some retain the offensive connotations and some don’t. Rule of thumb for example originated from references to domestic violence and yet is colloquially accepted. Grandfathered in originates from racist voter suppression laws and yet now is completely accepted in legalese and other uses. Paddy wagon referred to the Irish derogatorily, etc.
        Added to this – the use of stupid, imbecilic, etc are still very much widely accepted in society, to the point where people often actively resist the designation of them as ableist.

        The adaptation of Black culture from white influences is extremely intricate in a lot of ways. And the consumers of culture are going to be different from community to community. I feel this is important to acknowledge regarding a culture historically oppressed particularly in the area of language.
        As the word sp*z on the whole relates to an oppressive and hurtful concept outside the Black community that the world recognizes as such, it is indeed better that it is removed from a piece of media. But it’s not so easy to proclaim semantics as being all or nothing when talking about different definitions in Black and white communities. Added to this is the negative lens through which many people still view AAVE.
        My overall point is, it’s absolutely possible to accept that this word shouldn’t be used because the larger meaning is oppressive but to understand that its usage like other words in AAVE may get lost in translation and consumption which if you are not Black you may not fully comprehend.
        This discussion happened with Lizzo, where people started saying that AAVE on the whole was damaging and ableist. Which ties back to my point that people often use this as a starting point to claim Black culture is not progressive.
        Anyway, I’m all over these posts so I’ll leave it at this, that removing it was the best idea.

      • NYC212 says:

        This ain’t it. You’re forgetting that we have disabled people in our community and this is hurtful to them, too. You want to say this is about humbling black women? What about the black mothers of children with disabilities, black women with disabilities, black women who have a parent with disabilities, black mothers who have disabilities, and black girls with disabilities? The world goes out of its way to humiliate them if they take notice of their existence at all. They matter as much as Beyoncé and Lizzo do. They are much more in need of advocacy than two fabulously wealthy people. Having a sound engineer edit out words on a record is an inconvenience they pay someone to do. Disabled people can’t pay someone to live with their difficulties.

        When you say things like this, you are making whiteness the face of disabilities. That is extremely dangerous and hurtful to black people who have disabilities and the people who love them. They already get fewer resources than white people and the socioeconomic disparities make it even worse. If you’re hellbent on making this about race, then please spare a thought for them.

  23. LeaTheFrench says:

    There was an article saying she did not apologize. The word will be changed. No apologies, through. Unlike Lizzo.

    • manta says:

      I was just about to write that before I saw your post. She did NOT apologize. Her team just announced the change of word . A world apart from Lizzo’s reaction.
      And all of this mess from someone who was so eager to let people know she conducted a full Me too background search on everyone involved in this project. Should have started with the basic of a simple check of lyrics.

  24. Queen B says:

    Where does this end? I feel like music should be immune from political correctness. I’m not offended by the b word or the n word in music? I just don’t understand why it’s necessary to police the language of artists like this. In pandering to the disabled community, you’re silencing a black won an and forcing her to codify her expression for the comfort of others. That’s not art, that’s neutering an artist by restricting their word choices.

    • Coco says:

      O no Just stop.

      Do not try to use black women as a shield your ignorance. Because if you cared about black women you wouldn’t have written this comment.

      Your a stan making up excuses for this mess.

      • HeatherC says:

        Asking someone(s) to treat the disabled community with respect, or at least without disrespect, is pandering. Wow.

    • ME says:

      @ Queen B

      You are being ridiculous. “Pandering to the disabled community” ??? Really ??? So Beyonce is above apologizing for using a slur becausse she’s a Black woman? Nope ! No excuses for ANYONE. Also, you do know you can be a Black woman AND be part of the disabled community right?

    • candy says:

      Trust me, no one is pandering to the disabled community. We have a very, very, very, very long way to go before they get more than a blue parking space outside a Walmart. And language matters, it’s our most powerful tool to express our values. Maybe we should expect that from artists more than anyone.

    • Bama says:


      Take a break.

  25. Doxie says:

    I’m looking real hard at Beyoncé’s statement, but I’m not seeing an apology.

  26. candy says:

    I think the world can live without such poetry, eyeroll.

  27. Luna17 says:

    First of all per the other post I’m gonna guess Beyoncé didn’t actually write the lyric – probably one of the other dozens of writers did. Also the Lizzo thing just happened so kind of weird no one on her team thought they should go ahead and change it. I thought the term was more of 80s/90s slang and didn’t hear it for a long time. I didn’t realize the origins were ableist at all but I also haven’t heard or used it in forever. As other commenters have said the ableist slurs seem to mostly be acceptable (are you blind or deaf for example is still common to hear) while society seems to be better about other slurs. I also understand it has a different meaning in Black culture and language is nuanced and not always black and white.

  28. HeatherC says:

    I’m blinking back tears of frustration and sadness at some of these replies. Asking anyone to stop using ableist slurs is fine, but not if she’s a black woman? Then we’re silencing her? I thought we were starting to be better.

    I don’t care who uses it and I call out all people. This probably wouldn’t have come to my attention because she doesn’t perform in my preferred genre but here we are.

    When your kid gets called a r*tard by other people, and he knows that’s “bad”

    When your kid cries over that and wonders why kids at school won’t like him because he’s in special education

    When your kid hears that word used by other people and slumps his shoulders

    When you watch your father grit his teeth at the stares

    When you have to take a deep breath when you are asked, again (as an adult!) what’s “wrong” with your father

    When simple changes in language aren’t taken seriously because you get accused of silencing someone, when all you have to do is NOT use just ONE word that makes anyone else feel less than is such a big deal….we haven’t come far enough.

    “I didn’t mean it like THAT” isn’t an excuse. It isn’t an apology. Stop. Say now I know and I’ll try harder next time.

    This isn’t a “snowflake” stance.

    This is a my father survived polio and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with him stance.
    This is a my son may have to work harder than your kid but he’s not ‘less than’ your kid stance.

    This is I respect Beyonce for her hard work and dedication to her craft but this is an opportunity to learn and I hope she, her team and others take it stance.

  29. Mothra says:

    As much as I love Beyonce’s work, I’d say she’s the least organic celebrity i ever seen. I mean, even an apology comes through her rep. It’s all so calculated and robotic.

    • HeatherC says:

      That’s why this is so disappointing. Her image is very micromanaged and locked down. How did this slip through?

  30. AmelieOriginal says:

    I only recently became aware that spaz was considered a slur. I used it a lot when I was younger in high school and probably college but I haven’t used it myself in years nor heard others use it. Kind of like the r word (ret*rded) which I definitely used a lot in middle/high school but that fell off around college—also I think the word naturally went out of use quite some time ago (I haven’t someone use it in years) along with “that’s so gay” (I never used this one and was always offended by it, even in middle school when I first heard it). When you know better, you phase out those words and I will never use them again.

    Some I had no idea were slurs or had offensive origins like peanut gallery, gypped etc. Not words I use on a daily basis but I have used in the past.

  31. Nattie says:

    Where is Beyonce’s apology?

  32. Hyde E. says:

    I never write comments here, but I couldn’t sit on this one. I am a Black woman and I am mostly “meh” about Beyonce. But, look…the world is constantly evolving. Culture is ever-changing. Language is basically a living organism. There will ALWAYS BE something and someone out there that is against some of us, that offends some of us, that makes us feel less than. Oftentimes things are lodged at us intentionally, and other times those things come without malice.

    As someone who has had a bevy of words lodged at her from DAY ONE, for her skin, hair, weight, looks, class, mental health, and more, from both strangers and abusive “loved ones,” I have had to take a lot. So many of us have.

    But reading these comments is a bit much. Lizzo, Peridot, and people in the comments both with and without CB or other disabilities had no idea that this word was considered a slur. The aforementioned people were not being wilfully ignorant, they *just didn’t know.* There is so much in our language that has unknown/lost/hazy origins. Having to overthink and Google every. single. word or phrase that one writes or utters to keep from being excoriated and summarily dismissed is a bridge too far. Seriously, where does it end? She is taking out the word. That is an action that should be satisfactory, but no, “Where is the apology!?!” Honestly, how does that help more than the acknowledgement and removal?

    Is it possible that people involved in the album, including Beyonce herself, didn’t even remember the word was included in the song? Do you really and truly believe that they just hate disabled people and wanted to hurt them so bad that they would ignore the revent Lizzo controversy? That is possible, sure. And yes, they do run a tight ship over there at Ivy Park, and that means that they don’t like for any negative press to tarnish the name of their figurehead. Who knows, maybe with enough sustained outrage, the apology will come a bit later.

    Something that I’ve had to learn in life is that sometimes we won’t get the apology or the understanding or care that we so deeply desire from those closest to us. Can we please stop expecting it from multimillionaires who do not know us or care about us and whose main job in life is to keep doing things that will keep them multimillionaires? Can we start to just accept that we cannot bend the outside world to our will with our feelings and emotional displays? I wish that people owed us more than that, but for so long, the response to that has been, “They don’t.” I say this as a very sensitive person who has seen and felt enough to know that there is no real power in this type of approach. Being *constantly* offended by things or on the behalf of someone else is truly a waste of time and energy, particularly when we have no control over other people’s words or actions. Let people’s words and actions show you who they are and then act accordingly. If you didn’t previously know, follow, or support Beyonce, you literally have to do nothing else.

    • Imara219 says:

      I completely agree

    • K says:

      Yes to your whole comment, but especially yes to this part…

      “Being *constantly* offended by things or on the behalf of someone else is truly a waste of time and energy”

  33. Sonya says:

    I didn’t know that word was albleist? Until lizzo mistake in using it, Beyonce gets a lot of backlash sometimes just for breathing, yes I am a stance, because, this is the first article about her that reached this much traffic, and most of it is negative, she literally stays out of headlines until she has a project, she made a mistake, and is making the nessasary changes, but that’s not enough for her adversaries. (She didn’t apologize, she should have known better, she is overrated,) Beyonce is very talented, you don’t have to like her or her music, but you can’t take that away from her, she is one of the most talented artist we have today, she worked very hard for that position, from age 12, everyone from Prince, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin to name a few thinks very highly of her persona and talents, on and off the stage, no ego at all. I am happy she did what was right and made the change.

  34. WithLove says:

    Her lyrics in general are gross.
    It’s like she hired a bunch of 15 year old boys to write them.

  35. Slippers4life says:

    As a disabled person, one thing I can say is I have no issue with people making mistakes. I have issue with, once you know better, refusing to do better. An apology would mean a lot actually. Because the absolute worst part of having a disability is the loss of human connection. I think we over use the term “offended” when someone tries to have courage and verbalize that something we said or did hurt them. When people tell us they hurt us, we don’t get to decide that we didn’t and then throw that they ate “so easily offended these days” “I’ve had bad stuff happen to me to you know”, which comes from a place of shame. We feel shame when people express that we have hurt them because most of us would never fully intend to hurt anyone. So we feel scared that we might use a word we didn’t know was extremely harmful. How are words harmful to disabled people? When it translates to an increase in stigma that translates to assumptions about whether or not we can work; whether or not we feel pain; whether or not we have access to public spaces and educating folks on that is extremely emotionally exhausting. I have been dropped and broken my hip countless times by staff when traveling. I can do it myself because I have a lot of upper body strength, but there are several times where someone decides they think I am cognitively incapacitated and just grabs me and then drops me. This is a regular occurrence when traveling. This all stems from stigma. Because people think they’re “helping”. Every person who has dropped me “meant well”, but that doesn’t change that I get to have my emotions about my consent being violated, resulting in getting badly hurt. I also get to verbalize that. That is just one example..I dont say this from a place of saying I’ve never made mistakes ans said something I didn’t know was offensive. What I’m saying is, we need to acknowledge that when we get educated or called in for saying something we didn’t know was offensive, that it’s totally normal to feel shame about that. I can relate to feeling shame, not wanting to feel that shame and trying to numb that shame by saying things like, “everyone is so offended these days!” “People have said bad things to me to you know” “why do you need an apology? I can’t be expected to know every little thing.” I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. If we haven’t experiences shame, it means we have no capacity for human empathy. I totally get feeling worried about bring perceived ad ableist because we didn’t “intend” to be. We are all ableist I hope when it comes to ableism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphpbia, that we can all do better to sit in that shame when we are called out, and let it tell us the truth….which is that we are all connected so when injustice happens to one person it happens to all of us and THAT is what we don’t want to look in the eye. Lizzo’s apology and openness to learning, meant a whole lot to the disabled community. It meant a lot to me personally. It translated into some rich discussions at work which resulted in a lift being installed so i don’t have to get my hands and butt dirty everyday scooting up the stairs. It would mean a whole hell of a lot, if Beyonce did too. That being said, mistakes serve a purpose and we all deserve grace.

    • Hyde E. says:

      @SLIPPERS4LIFE, I hear you and I think I may understand what you are saying. But what stopped them from installing those necessary accommodations before these recent songs? Yes, it’s a serious issue, but popstars are not the biggest problem in a wide, systemic issue. Focus can be well-spent on the people and organizations that actively contribute to improper accommodations. If people can talk about the issues when it comes to popstars, where is the same vocal volume when it comes to self-advocacy?