- Mark Savage
- BBC Music Reporter
A spokeswoman for singer Beyoncé has stated that she will change the lyrics of the song heated after criticism for containing a term offensive to people with some neurological conditions.
The track, which also has Canadian rapper Drake as one of the authors, is on the singer’s new album, renaissance. The term appears twice throughout the song.
American pop star Lizzo recently apologized for using the same word in her song GRRRLS.
In June, Lizzo apologized and re-recorded the track, removing the offending lyrics.
“Let me clarify one thing: I never want to promote derogatory language,” she wrote in a statement posted on social media.
“As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had a lot of offensive words used against me, so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally or unintentionally, as was my case).”
The term Beyoncé and Lizzo used is an English abbreviation for spasms that characterize some neurological conditions.
Activist Hannah Diviney says this new incident involving the same word in such a short amount of time “feels like a slap in the face”.
“I am tired and frustrated that we are having this conversation again after receiving such a meaningful response from Lizzo,” she told the BBC.
Scope, a group for people with disabilities, asked Beyoncé to re-record the track without the offending term.
“Words matter because they reinforce the negative attitudes people with disabilities face every day,” says media manager Warren Kirwan.
“Beyoncé has been an advocate for inclusivity and equality, so we ask that she remove that offensive word.”
The BBC has reached out to Beyoncé’s representatives for a position.
“It’s irritating because it’s a word that sticks,” says Nikki Fox, the BBC’s disability correspondent. “But it’s a horrible word.”
“It’s a term we would never use in the UK – although we recognize that it is sometimes used differently in the US.”
Fox says the track has 11 songwriters and likely passed through several people at Beyoncé’s record label.
“If you think about how many people listened to the track and none of them thought ‘wait a minute’ nor were they aware of the controversy when Lizzo used the same word… It’s very disappointing.”
Similar comments were made on social media after renaissance was released last Friday (30/07).
“What’s the point of Lizzo changing the lyrics if Beyoncé can drop a song that has the exact same word?” asked @theblackgirlwarrior, an epilepsy activist, on TikTok.
Activist Hannah Diviney acknowledged that it might be more difficult to get an apology from Beyoncé, given her status as a pop star.
“But it makes me more determined to get an answer.”
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