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ALICIA WALLACE: Lizzo’s handling of her mistake is an example to learn from

One of the most interesting artists of this generation is Lizzo. Some fans enjoyed her music on YouTube long before she got big. His music has always been fun, uplifting and relatable. She is shameless herself. Her Instagram is full of photos and videos where she makes it clear that being fat is not a character flaw or a source of shame for her. She intentionally hired dancers with different body types, refusing to conform to the typical aesthetic of live performances and music videos.

His music and his personality make people feel good and encourage people to love themselves as they are. This week, it added accountability to its public offerings.

Lizzo’s new album, Special, will be released next month. The single GRRRLS was released on Friday and there was an immediate backlash. The song is about friendship between women, about standing up for each other to celebrate each other’s victories.

In the first verse, Lizzo sang, “Hold my bag, can you see that [expletive]? I am a spaz. This last word is the cause of the backlash. Disabled people pointed out that “spaz” is a pejorative term that stems from the medical condition spastic diplegia. This review sparked a conversation about the word, its usage, and whether or not it is acceptable to use such language. Some have argued that the word is used differently in certain parts of the world and that a different meaning is understood and implied. Others noted that it is important to listen when people say specific words are harmful and help perpetuate negative ideas about certain communities.

Lizzo responded quickly with a new version of the song, removing the harmful language. The lyrics are now, “Hold my bag, you see that [expletive]? Hold me back.” In an Instagram post, she said, “I never want to promote derogatory language.” She continued, “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had a lot of hurtful words used against me.[…] As an influential artist, I am dedicated to being part of the change I have been waiting to see in the world.

The new version of the song was well received. On social media, people are pointing to Lizzo’s quick action as a prime example of accountability. She acknowledged that she had done something wrong and, although she was not aware of it at the time, it was her responsibility to make the correction and reduce the damage. One tweet read: “Lizzo just showed how to correct your mistakes with grace. She did the right thing when she received deserved reviews, and I hope other artists take notice.

There really is a lesson to be learned from Lizzo’s mistake, the criticism, and her response. People do and say harmful things for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes the evil is the intention. Sometimes there is lack of attention or indifference. In some cases, however, people do not have enough information. Unfortunately, there isn’t always someone around who knows better and can encourage better actions before harm is done.

It is important for us to educate ourselves, to listen to each other and to move towards solutions. The review isn’t bad, and that’s no reason to run away. This is often an opportunity to learn a lesson that can be applied over and over again. When a person is offended by a correction or resists new information, critics are considered enemies. We would all be much better off if we accepted that we don’t know everything and treated mistakes and criticism as opportunities for growth.

Even in their reviews, many members of the disability community provided useful information. They didn’t just say that GRRRLS was offensive or that using a derogatory word was unacceptable. They made connections. They specifically noted that the word may be used differently in certain parts of the world, shared the context they have for the word, and named the condition it refers to. They are in no way responsible for educating anyone, let alone the people who have harmed them, but many people with disabilities have seen the value of explaining all this to Lizzo and the thousands of people who lend pay attention to the conversation.

How we offer criticism matters. When we give it, it helps to be clear with ourselves that the goal is to affect the change rather than just expressing disappointment or rage.

When we receive criticism, we can react in several ways. They usually boil down to defense and repair. When we are defensive, we focus on our own perspectives, and sometimes we try to portray ourselves as victims, calling criticism mean or unfair. When we focus on repair, we listen to understand, expand our own knowledge, and find ways to reduce harm and demonstrate our commitment to doing better.

In Lizzo’s response, for example, she didn’t center her lack of knowledge on the term or condition or use it as an excuse. She understood that people were hurt by the lyrics and within three days changed those lyrics and released the new version. Of course, some will complain that she included one particular item in her statement, that she doesn’t have enough knowledgeable team members who could pick up on issues like that, or a number of other items. specific that they would expect.

There will also be, as there have been before, people who get away with intentional and unintentional damage for various reasons. None of this takes away from this moment. A mistake was made and people were hurt. People explain the harm caused. The manager took action. It is responsibility, and we need more of it.


1 CEDAW Convention Lecture Series, Article 4 with Gaynel Curry. This series is hosted by Equality Bahamas to provide information on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, one article at a time. Experts from around the world explain an article, including interpretation, state expectations and recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee in the Bahamas. Patricia Schulz was the guest speaker for the first session, which focused on discrimination and policy action, and the recording is available at tiny.cc/cedaw1recording. During the second session, Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia gave a presentation on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the recording is available at tiny.cc/cedaw3recording. This session, focusing on special measures, will be held on Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. Sign on tiny. cc/cedaw4 to join the discussion on Zoom. We will certainly talk about political quotas, how and where they have succeeded, and what they might look like in the Bahamas.

2 To be Serena. This five-part documentary series provides insight into the life of Serena Williams. The interviews are interspersed with images of his life. In the interviews, she is candid and the images give the impression of being in the room and observing the events. In the first episode, she talks about dreaming she was pregnant, finding out she was pregnant, and playing at the 2017 Australian Open. In less than 25 minutes, there are glimpses of her pregnancy and preparing for the arrival of her baby, and it ends in dramatic fashion with the decision to have a C-section – complicated by her history of blood clots and the knowledge that any surgery is life-threatening for her – because her baby was in distress. The drama continues in the second episode where she had the baby, but then struggled to breathe. Knowing his medical history, she defended herself, insisting on a specific test to find the problem. It’s an emotional roller coaster. One of the interesting things Serena says is that fear is one of the things that drives her, and that statement brings a great perspective.

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