Black hair bears the brunt of racism all over the world. Music giant Sony was recently ordered to pay retroactive compensation back to 1997 for the release of the song, “Veja os Cabelos Dela (Look at Her Hair) by the singer known as Tiririca. Here are a few lyrics from the song:

Veja veja veja veja veja os cabelos dela (4x)
(Look look look look look at her hair (4x)
Parece bom-bril*, de ariá panela
(It looks like a scouring pad for pots and pans)
Quando ela passa, me chama atenção
(When she goes by, she catches my attention)
Mas os seus cabelos, não tem jeito não
(But her hair just isn’t right)
A sua catinga quase me desmaiou
(Her stench almost made me faint)
Olha eu não aguento, é grande o seu fedor
(Look, I can’t take it, her smell is so bad)
Essa nega fede, fede de lascar
(This black woman stinks, she stinks horribly)
Bicha fedorenta, fede mais que gambá
(Stinking beast, smells worse than a skunk)

Pause for dramatic effect. How could a song with such incendiary lyrics even be released? As a young black woman with natural hair, I am appalled and disgusted that this type of prejudice could be packaged and sold as music. I can’t believe that even in this day in age that there is such extreme negative attention towards black women and the texture of our hair, if it’s not fried, dyed and laid to the side. And not only does this song attack the black woman’s hair, it ridicules and dehumanizes us by lowering us to the title of a stinking beast.
What this song reveals is that sentiments of Brazilian people, who have a wide variety of tones and hair textures, mirror negative perceptions of black beauty that are rampant here in the United States. It’s clear that loving our hair as it grows from our scalps is an international issue. This song is damaging to all black women with natural hair, and even more damaging to our younger girls. Will young girls begin to reject their hair, and try to conform to the masses of women with perms and weaves? Songs like that make it all the more probable.

The Court of Justice in Rio de Janeiro judged the song, distributed by Sony on the CD entitled Florentina, as racist. The CD sold about 250,000 copies. The settlement forces Sony to pay $1.2 million Brazilian reais (worth about $656,000 American dollars) in retroactive pay back to the year 1997 to the Diffused Rights Fund of the Ministry of Justice. The suit was brought forth by 10 non-governmental organizations that fight against racism (though they won’t be compensated). In my opinion, this judgment was long overdue.

What do you think of the song and lawsuit?

-Nikia Pope

  • meta smith

    You never mentioned who Sony has to pay the money TO!

  • LR

    Sony is paying the fine to the Diffused Rights Fund of the Ministry of Justice. I’m not sure how the fund will use the money help fight racism.

    I heard about this a few years ago. It’s so disgusting. I can’t believe this song was recorded and then released! Ugh. One look at the man who made this song and you’ll know he has no business talking about any darn body! Sheesh! What’s worse is this fool was elected to a government office in Sao Paulo! What’s going on in Brazil? Anybody?

  • Dee

    Wow and Yikes!!!

  • AsiaDupree

    Please note, there is a movement to love our hair and not buy weaves along with brother(s) wearing locs. Now we are creating our own hair concoction out of herbs and oils. It is safe to assume that the beauty stores, hair companies, shareholders are owned by ???? are losing REVENUE.

    This economy is at a all time low, why would’nt those in power make it a point to divert and uphold the same methodology that worked in the past.

    If they cannot get money one way, believe me they will devise a different strategy to obtain it.

  • AJ

    Black women should take a tip from Brazil – we’ve been insulted in Rap and Hip Hop for at least 25 years for everything from our hair and skin shades, to our bodies. But none of the American musicians are sued or taken to task for it – in fact they are celebrated and have helped to keep the status of Black women in the trash. I say Yay Brazil! for making Sony pay for it’s garbage. Sony already made a fortune on the degradatio­n of Black women in the U.S. – but I guess they can take their garbage elsewhere because it won’t work in Brazil.

    If Black women in the U.S. had done this 25 years ago, things would not stand where they are today. It’s good to see that Brazil takes its slights against Black women much more seriously than we could ever imagine in the U.S. And if you notice, not too many weaves and wigs floating around on the heads of the ladies in Brazil. They don’t need to wear them, because if their hair gets trashed by their own people, and the Sony fat cats making ba-zillions off of our degradation, at least they know they can expect some consequences and repercussions. Black women and men should take a tip from Brazil!

  • AL

    Though I wear my hair natural, I find this offensive to black women as a whole. It has not been that long ago that I wore relaxed hair & would have been offended then as I am now.

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