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👀 Lizzo, Beyoncé and how words matter
#61 | Turn up the lights, turn down the music
Lizzo, ever since her debut in the world of pop, has constantly amazed me with her work and stance on things that matter. Recently, she was again in the news for something so rare for a celebrity that I had to read the news article twice just to confirm I wasn’t dreaming.
Her new song “GRRRLS” came under heat for using the word “spaz”. People with disabilities consider the word a slur; many took to Twitter to tell her this, while others defended her, arguing that the word isn’t offensive in AAVE (African American Vernacular English).
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But Lizzo, amazing, wonderful Lizzo, immediately apologised. And she didn’t stop there. She pledged to re-record the song without the offending word, which, for me, is the most fantastic bit in this entire episode. She did not decry “wokeness” or complain about “cancel culture“. Instead, she used her personal experiences to show absolute empathy and a willingness to learn.
While Lizzo has set new and higher standards for other celebrities, this incident has shed light on an ongoing debate about how ableist our day-to-day language is and how examining one’s own language is as essential as criticising a celebrity on social media. On that note, I thought of sharing a few sources to help me make my language more inclusive.
Language is a tool we use to make sense of our feelings and environment, which makes it essential to identify and stop using words and phrases that reinforce ableism. A video series, “No Body Is Disposable“, where people from a diverse spectrum have documented the history of ableism in the US. Context and resources to help you critically examine your own words.
Although rules of grammar define every language on the planet, language is by no means static. Language evolves, and learning is inherent to the process. Today let’s start with English.
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.“