$1.2 Million is the Cost of Singing Badly about Black Women’s Hair

January 6, 2012  |  

Not only should artists watch what they say, they better watch what they sing. Sony Music’s Brazilian branch is paying out $1.2 million ($656,000 in American dollars) in retroactive compensation for a song Brazilian singer, comedian, and politician Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva released in 1997. The song, “Veja os Cabelos Dela” (Look at Her Hair) has been deemed racist for it’s lyrics which call a black woman a “stinking beast” and liken her hair to “a scouring pad for pots and pans.”

The lawsuit was brought forth by 10 non-governmental associations that fight racism. They argued that black women were offended, exposed to ridicule, and felt violated due to the lyrical content of the song. Sony stood by its position that the song was not intended to offend women and that Silva, who goes by the stage name Tiririca, was referring to his wife in the song and that the terminology in the song is often used by Brazilians to describe both white and black women. No matter how they try to spin it, Sony still has to pay up. Check out the translation of the lyrics below and tell us if you think the organizations were right to file a lawsuit.

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)

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)

Veja veja veja veja veja os cabelos dela
(Look look look look look at her hair)

Parece bom-bril, de ariá panela (2x)
(It looks like a scouring pad for pots and pans) (2x)

Eu já mandei, ela se lavar
(I told her to take a bath)

Mas ela teimo, e não quis me escutar
(But she’s stubborn and doesn’t listen to me)

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)

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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