Beyoncé to change Renaissance lyric containing ableist slur

A spokesperson for the musician confirmed that she will remove the offensive term for disabled people from her new song, Heated

Beyoncé has confirmed that she will remove an offensive term for disabled people from the lyrics of her new album, Renaissance, after it was called “ableist” and “offensive” by disability charities and activists.

In the song Heated, co-written with Canadian rapper Drake, Beyoncé used a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. A representative for the musician told Insider that the lyric will be changed. “The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” the statement said.

In June, the US musician Lizzo was also called out for using the same term in the song Grrrls, from her new album Special. After a swift backlash, Lizzo apologised and replaced the lyric, saying that she had never wanted to “promote derogatory language” and adding: “As a fat Black woman in America, I have had many hurtful words used against me so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally, or in my case, unintentionally.)”

In the UK, the term in question is widely considered to be offensive. In 2003, it placed second in a BBC survey of the most offensive terms in the UK relating to anyone with a disability. In the US, however, it still appears in more common use.

Australian writer and disability advocate Hannah Diviney was among the first to call Lizzo out, with her tweet going viral. Writing in the Guardian on Monday, Diviney lamented witnessing the same situation play out again so soon. “I thought we’d changed the music industry and started a global conversation about why ableist language – intentional or not – has no place in music,” wrote Diviney. “But I guess I was wrong.”

Beyoncé’s commitment to musical and visual storytelling did not “excuse her use of ableist language – language that gets used and ignored all too often”, wrote Diviney. “Language you can be sure I will never ignore, no matter who it comes from or what the circumstances are.”

The UK disability charity Sense initially tweeted of Beyoncé’s Heated that it was “disappointing that another artist is using an offensive term in their song so soon after it was pointed out how hurtful the word is”, and called for “more education to improve awareness of disability”.

They later praised her for agreeing to change the lyric. “Beyoncé has a history of championing inclusivity, and we’re happy that she’s listened to feedback and agreed to re-record the lyric that many disabled people find offensive. We recognise that the word was not used intentionally to cause harm but words have power and can reinforce negative attitudes marginalised groups face.

“We want to thank Beyoncé for listening and look forward to getting on with enjoying the record.”


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The 50 best albums of 2022, No 1: Beyoncé – Renaissance
At last, a post-pandemic party album we could all get behind, as the artist rode her glittery horse through house, disco and ballroom culture to reimagine Studio 54 in her image

Jenessa Williams

23, Dec, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
Beyoncé announces new album, Renaissance
The apparent follow-up to 2016’s Lemonade is due for release on 29 July

Laura Snapes

16, Jun, 2022 @8:30 AM

Article image
Beyoncé returns with Renaissance: a play for the mainstream and a strike against perfectionism
The musician’s seventh album is seemingly shooting for cultural saturation while celebrating norm-defying musicians and workers

Michael Cragg

28, Jul, 2022 @9:13 AM

Article image
Beyoncé: The Lion King: The Gift review – superstar shows impeccable taste
Her solo numbers are of varying quality, but Beyoncé gives a valuable platform to African artists in this collaborative Disney spinoff

Alexis Petridis

19, Jul, 2019 @2:12 PM

Article image
‘Un-American girl’: how Beyoncé uses the power of pleasure to transcend a country on fire
The star’s new album Renaissance weaves Black dance music history, feminism and queer thought into an ecstatic masterpiece that defies marginalisation

Daphne A Brooks

02, Aug, 2022 @2:30 PM

Article image
Beyoncé: Renaissance review – a breathtaking, maximalist tour de force
The superstar’s seventh solo album is a kaleidoscopic barrage of disco, soul, house and dancehall that puts other post-pandemic party albums in the shade

Kitty Empire

06, Aug, 2022 @1:00 PM

Article image
Coachella 2018 lineup announced, headlined by Beyoncé and Eminem
The Californian music festival will also feature the Weeknd, David Byrne, Cardi B and dozens more pop and rap stars

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

03, Jan, 2018 @9:56 AM

Article image
Beyoncé: Break My Soul review – house anthem doesn’t break the mould
First single from forthcoming album Renaissance preaches freedom but gets stuck in some familiar musical tropes

Alexis Petridis

21, Jun, 2022 @10:33 AM

Article image
Beyoncé: Renaissance review | Tara Joshi's album of the week
On her unapologetically escapist seventh album, the pop superstar unleashes everything from disco bangers to global house hedonism

Tara Joshi

28, Jul, 2022 @11:01 PM

Article image
Beyoncé covers December issue of British Vogue
In a rare interview, Beyoncé told Vogue editor Edward Enninful that her new goal was to ‘slow down and shed stressful things from my life’

Laura Snapes

30, Oct, 2020 @6:41 PM