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September 27, 2022

Beyoncé changes lyrics to ‘Renaissance’ song after criticism over ableism

Beyoncé changes lyrics to ‘Renaissance’ song after criticism over ableism

Beyoncé is changing a lyric to a song on her new album, “Renaissance,” following criticism by many people in the disability community that the track contained an ableist slur.

The 11th track, “Heated,” contained the word “spaz,” a slur against people with disabilities.

Lizzo received backlash for the same word after initially including it in her single “Grrrls,” which was released in June. After fans pointed out that the word originates from “spastic,” the artist changed the lyrics.

“Someone who is spastic is born with a disability which makes it difficult for them to control their muscles, especially in their arms and legs,” according to Collins Dictionary. “Most people now refer to someone with this disability as having cerebral palsy.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, generally “cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with exaggerated reflexes, floppiness or spasticity of the limbs and trunk, unusual posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these.”

On Monday, Beyoncé fans had similar feedback for the artist with her use of the word.

Some also noted that the term has a different meaning in the Black community, commonly used to mean “go crazy” in African American English, or African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

“We’ve been over this, Spaz in AAVE is not the same word,” one person tweeted. “Please educate yourself on our language the way we’ve been ‘encouraged’ to read up on ableist terms.”

Similarly, in response to the Lizzo discussion in June, another person tweeted: “This honestly feels like a case of misunderstood AAVE bc ‘Imma spaz out’ goes back to the 90s and I’ve never known it to be tied to a medical condition. Not to say that it’s not problematic. There’s been many times where black ppl have transformed words to mean what we want.”

A representative for Beyoncé said in a statement that “the word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”

Wilson Wong is a culture and trends reporter for NBC News Digital.

Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.

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