[UPDATE FROM LIZZO AT BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE]
Two days ago, I wrote an article about Lizzo falling off the equality bandwagon due to using an ableist slur in her new song Grrrls. Since it has been emphasised by her social media team seemingly deleting comments and blocking disabled creators. The outcry against the Disabled Community, specifically on Twitter, has been worrisome.
People have been arguing that it is AAVE. Which, although it might’ve been adopted into AAVE, it still doesn’t give them the right to use a slur as the word in AAVE is still linked back to the derogatory meaning.
Others have argued that Americans don’t know what it means or didn’t know it was a slur, since it’s not used against disabled people in the US. But, once again, this doesn’t excuse its use. And if anything makes it worse. I’ve spoken with Disabled Americans who’ve had jokes made about them, with this word used in said joke.
This leads me to the usage in the US. Instead of it being used against disabled people, it is majoritively used at our expense. It’s often used in jokes or in songs to mean “uncontrollable erratic behaviour”, linking back to people with CP, Epilepsy, and many other disabilities.
More and more people discussed whether the slur was a noun or a verb, and excused why one is okay while the other isn’t – and, of course, these conversations were not including or listening to disabled voices.
It’s 2022 and people are still fighting for their right to use a slur.
With this being said, it’s not just British people outraged. American disabled people have also expressed upset, and so have Australian, New Zealand, and Europeans.
The only country in our world that is actively fighting to use this slur is America.
We’re not asking for much, we’re just asking for the slur to stop being used. There are plenty of words that can mean erratic behaviour without using a word at the expense of disabled people.
With this being said, I’d also like to emphasise why we’re upset with Lizzo, specifically.
She’s known for being all for equality and equity. She has been a fabulous creator and support. Her music is mainstream, so it will be played all over the world with great popularity.
Having such a big presence results in being called out for things you do wrong.
Other artists have named their bands this slur, or named songs this slur, and that is NOT okay. But they wouldn’t be brought to my attention because I’m not their demographic. They’re not popular enough for a public outcry.
Given that, I’d love for them to remove the word from their band titles and songs, but in terms of songs, it’s a bit too late. While bands can be renamed, established songs cannot be.
Lizzo’s song was debuted, they have time to go back and change it before it will forever affect the song.
After all, we’re not asking for her to scrap the song entirely. We’re asking you to stop using a slur.
Furthermore, I’d also like to call out members of the disabled community for being ableist themselves. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That I’m having to write this but unfortunately some disabled people ignore other disabilities. For example, plenty of creators have stated that the outcry has “fallen on deaf ears” – which has been pointed out as being ableist for decades.
Other creators have stated that people are “blinded by ignorance”… And some have attacked Lizzo for her race and suggested “AAVE isn’t valid”.
Honestly, it’s disheartening seeing the community focus on one issue while damning another. We can ask for a slur to no longer be used while not using ableist language or being racist.
It’s despicable that in 2022 the disabled community isn’t united in understanding each other’s issues and it’s horrific that there are still people out there using any situation they can find to disguise their racism.
So, I’d like to apologise to anyone who has had their disability mocked, anybody who has been racially abused, and anybody who has had their language (AAVE) demonised in the crossfire of this incident. It’s completely unacceptable. We all need to do better.
Lizzo has announced a change to the lyrics and a new version has been released. She’s apologised for the harm caused and learnt. And we highly appreciate it!
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