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“As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I can overstand the power words have”
Lizzo has taken to Instagram to announce an update to her song ‘GRRRLS’, following criticism from people with disabilities. The singer said a “harmful word” had been brought to her attention and said she had made the decision to create a new version of the song, with different lyrics.
The word appears very early on in her original song, with disability advocate Hannah Diviney writing on Twitter criticising Lizzo’s use of the word “spaz.” Diviney wrote, “‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur.”
The National Disability Authority also states the term “spastic” is “stigmatising” on its website.
Lizzo continued in her statement, “Let me make one thing: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I can overstand the power words have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”
She announced she was “proud” to announce a lyric change, continuing, “This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
A newer version of the song posted to YouTube five days ago showcased the new lyrics, which changed the words “I’mma spaz” to “hold me back.”
A number of activists thanked Lizzo for the lyric change on Twitter, however the move was also met with some controversy online with others suggesting Lizzo had been judged too harshly.
Black disabled activist Keah Brown, who agreed that the use of the word was “bad”, tweeted, “A lot of white disabled people…really feel like they can be the judge jury and executioner for someone without giving them the room to learn.”
She continued, “Let’s remember that not a single person on this earth was born knowing everything. You have to give some people who are not doing harm to others in any intentional way the room to learn from their mistakes.”
Lizzo’s song ‘GRRRLS’ is the musician’s first single off her new album Special, which is set to be released on July 15 – exactly one month from now. She also recently shared a video of herself dancing to the song with curly fuchsia locks, as well as a series of photographs debuting her new look.