Lizzo Facing Backlash For “Ableist Slur” In New Single “Grrrls”

Lizzo Facing Backlash For “Ableist Slur” In New Single “Grrrls”

Lizzo is currently getting ready to release her new album Special, and her single “About Damn Time” is currently sitting in the US top 10. On Friday, Lizzo shared a new single called “Grrrls,” a fairly anodyne solidarity song that uses the xylophone riff from the Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill oldie “Girls.” But one line from the song has been attracting negative attention, especially in the UK.

The Independent reports that there’s been some social-media outrage over Lizzo using the term “sp*z” on “Grrrls.” On the track, Lizzo says, “Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag / Do you see this shit? I’ma sp*z.” Some social-media users, calling that term an “ableist slur” about people with cerebral palsy, have been asking Lizzo to remove the word from the song. Especially in the UK, “sp*z” and “spastic” have long been used as playground insults. Certain Twitter users believe the Lizzo, someone with a large international audience, should’ve known about this.

My little sister has cerebral palsy, and she was born in the UK, though she only lived there for a few months. I called her, possibly waking her up, to ask what she thought of the line. She’s always been sensitive about media portrayals of disabilities, and she won’t watch any movie where an actor without disabilities plays a character who has them. But she doesn’t see anything wrong with Lizzo’s line: “People say ‘sp*z’ in a lot of different contexts, not just disability-related.” She also makes sure to point out that she doesn’t represent the entire community of people with disabilities on that, though.

UPDATE: On Monday night Lizzo addressed the controversy in a statement and released a new version of “Grrrls” without the slur.

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