Lizzo Just Gave Us the Blueprint for Teaching Our Kids How To Be Accountable

People took to social media to call out singer Lizzo after the release of her song "GRRRLS" was discovered to have an ableist slur. She showed us how to appropriately correct an unintended mistake.

The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" - Lizzo
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Lizzo recently came under fire after many called her out for using an ableist slur in her song "Grrrls." She took to Twitter this week to issue an apology and showed us all why she is so easy to love.

"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," the singer wrote. "As a fat black woman in America, I've had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally). I'm proud to say there's a new version of "GRRRLS" with a lyric change. This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I'm dedicated to being part of the change I've been waiting to see in the world. Xoxo, Lizzo."

For context, the uproar was caused after her single "GRRRLS" was released. Almost immediately people took to social media to call Lizzo out for the line "Do you see this (expletive)? I'm a spazz." The word spaz is a derogatory term that evolved from spastic. "Someone who is spastic is born with a disability which makes it difficult for them to control their muscles, especially in their arms and legs," according to Collins Dictionary. "Most people now refer to someone with this disability as having cerebral palsy." Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled.

As a mom, I am always looking for opportunities to take real-world situations and apply the lesson. So what can we learn from this? First, words mean things. And slang has origins. I am constantly reminding my children not to use words when they are not familiar with the meanings of them simply because they heard them on YouTube or read them in a Roblox chat. You have to know what you are saying. And so many of the words people have "gotten used to" using today have deeper and more hurtful origins. So it's really just best to be aware of what you are actually saying.

But we do have to admit that Lizzo listened to her fans/followers/critics and handled it like a BOSS. The song "GRRRLS" was quickly re-released with a lyric change. The apology? Chef's kiss.

Nobody is perfect, and celebrities are certainly not exempt from making mistakes despite the high standards the public holds them to. Disability advocate Hannah Diviney took to Twitter in an emotional follow-up after Lizzo's tweet. "I'm going to cry. Thank you so much for hearing us Lizzo and for understanding that this was only ever meant gently and being open to learning, it honestly means the world. You're a real true ally," she wrote.

The "Truth Hurts" singer served something up with her apology that we rarely see from people in her position. Immediate action. According to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, "A sincere and effective apology is one that communicates genuine empathy, remorse, and regret as well as a promise to learn from your mistakes." And perhaps it came a little easier for Lizzo as a celebrity to apologize and reroute because she has been on the receiving end of offensive, derogatory comments. Even in response to her mistake, she was able to put aside any defensiveness.

Some folks thought Lizzo shouldn't have made lyric changes because she was letting white people bully her out of using African American Vernacular English (AAVE), yet others mentioned change is necessary and no one is immune to change and growth.

Ways We Can Teach Our Children To Take Accountability When They've Hurt Someone

  • Acknowledge the issue. And acknowledge it with understanding. It's not only important to know what you did/said wrong but to also understand why it was wrong. You can't express remorse without understanding.
  • Validate their experience. Because nothing is worse than someone telling you that they were hurt and getting responses like "you're so sensitive" or "I was just playing!' It matters less what your intentions were and more what the end result of your actions/words was.
  • Mean what you say. Be genuine in your apology while also doing the above two. People can see right through an apology that you don't mean. Even children!
  • Take it from Lizzo; be the change you want to see. Once you have apologized and learn from your mistakes then put your actions behind the apology. Don't repeat the behavior. Learn ways to go about the situation differently for the future.

It's probably a rare instance in which I can take adult celebrity actions and apply them to everyday parenting but of course we STAN a queen. Lizzo, here's to teaching lessons to your fans, haters, us parents, and our kiddos. You continue to be magic!

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