Beyoncé is the latest artist to reexamine lyrics from a new album and make changes in the name of inclusivity. The multiplatinum artist released her latest album, Renaissance, on Friday, and confirmed Monday that she'll revise a lyric that included a term many find to be an ableist slur.
In June, Lizzo corrected the same word on her new album, Special, and issued an apology.
Here's what's happening with Beyoncé.
What did Beyoncé say and why is it offensive?
According to The New York Times, the word in question pops up twice in a track on Renaissance called Heated. In the song, the singer uses the words "spaz" and "spazzin." The Cambridge Dictionary explains that the term is used as a way to call someone stupid. At issue is the origin of the word, which can be linked to "spastic," which the dictionary says is an offensive way to refer to a person who has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle control.
In an opinion piece in The Guardian on Monday, diversity advocate Hannah Diviney, the person who first called out Lizzo online for her use of the word, wrote about her disappointment at having brought the conversation around the word to the pages of publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post, only to have the term appear again a few weeks later.
"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," Diviney wrote.
What happened with Lizzo?
In June, Diviney tweeted at Lizzo after the singer used the word in her song GRRRLS. She wrote, "My disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. 'Spaz' doesn't mean freaked out or crazy. It's an ableist slur. It's 2022. Do better."
Two days later, Lizzo tweeted a statement saying that the lyric would be changed and that she understood the power of words. "I never want to promote derogatory language," she said, also noting, "As an influential artist, I'm dedicated to being part of the change I've been waiting to see in the world."
What is Beyoncé's response?
Insider reported Monday that a representative for Beyoncé said via email, "The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced."
A representative for Beyoncé didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
What exactly is ableist language?
Ableist language refers to language that's been used to describe people with disabilities in a discriminatory way. Ableist language can be used expressly to be hurtful. Sometimes it can also be language that's so commonly used, the person using it might not even realize what's being said. The University of the Fraser Valley gives examples like lame and insane, as well as alternatives to express certain ideas instead, like saying something is ridiculous or absurd instead of crazy.