In North America, particularly among Black women, the word “spaz” means to freak out. However, the inclusion of the word on the song, “Grrrls” by Lizzo was not well-received in the United Kingdom where it is known as a common slur against disabled people.
The lyrics in question were “Hold my bag, bitch / Hold my bag / Do you see this shit? / I’mma spaz,” and fans took to social media to express their disappointment in the singer who has often been a champion for body positivity. One fan tweeted, “@lizzo please re-release “grrrls” without the ablist slur. That word is not kind to disabled people. Your music is global and you have a voice folks listen to. We are trusting and asking you to release it without the slur. xo a disabled person who just wants to enjoy music.”
As the debate began to rage on in earnest on social media over the weekend and into Tuesday, the “Truth Hurts” singer issued a statement saying, “It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS.’ Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language.”
She added, “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstated the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally),” she continued. “I’m proud to say there’s a new version of ‘Grrrls’ with a lyric change.”
The singer concluded, “This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
The new version now says, “Hold my bag, bitch / Hold my bag / Do you see this shit? / Hold me back.”
Fans of the star praised her for taking the decisive action. “I want to give Lizzo her flowers. She set the bar for accountability. Within three days she acknowledged the concerns of the disabled community and is rereleasing the song. I want it to be remembered that a Black woman set the precedent for what accountability should be,” one fan wrote in a viral tweet.
“Grrrls” is the second single from Lizzo’s sophomore album, Special which drops on July 15.
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