On Monday, disappointed Lizzo fans stormed Twitter to call out the rapper’s use of the ableist word “spaz” (“Do you see this shit? I’m a spaz”) in her song “Grrrls.” And Lizzo’s prompt response should serve as a lesson to all public personalities on how to respond when you do something controversial or inadvertently hurt people.
“Hey @lizzo 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,” one person Tweeted, explaining the troublesome origin of the word.
In less than 24 hours, Lizzo had replaced the lyric with, “Do you see this shit? Hold me back.” It was a very small change that showed she gives a shit about the disability community and listens to their feedback. Easy peasy. Celebs take note.
“Let me make one thing clear: 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 understand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally.) I’m proud to say there’s a new version of girls with a lyric change,” Lizzo posted in a note on Twitter. “This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the challenge change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.” And just like that—fans got to breathe a sigh of relief that they wouldn’t have to cancel one of their faves.
In 2020, after receiving Billboard’s Woman of the Year award, Cardi B caused an uproar when she used the R-word in a voice memo posted on Twitter. The rapper refused to apologize to the disability community, telling Billboard, “N——s be out here doing the most, being disrespectful. Just the other day, I was getting chewed up because I said the R-word. Like, how you gonna cancel me for calling myself r——-ed?” Yikes! And in 2021, Sia disappointed fans when she doubled down on her decision to cast Maddie Ziegler—who isn’t autistic—to play an autistic character in her film Music. So kudos to Lizzo for addressing the controversy head-on. It’s About Damn Time celebs learn how to correct a misstep without getting defensive or throwing a tantrum.