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Sony Brasil Pays $1.2 Million for Racist Track

Ladies, when you hear complaints about hip-hop’s misogynist and disrespectful lyrics towards women of color, remember that at least the media and music indsurty in the US bows to popular pressure and attitudes. In other countries, not so much—especially when it comes to black women, but maybe things are changing. After reading a popular message board this afternoon, I came across the article by Leila of BGWLH, who included this excerpt from Black Women of Brazil:

“….Reported on December 17th, 2011, music giant Sony was 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. The Court of Justice in Rio de Janeiro judged the song to be racist and passed judgement against the Sony record label that distributed the song on the CD entitled Florentina back in 1996. 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. The suit was brought forth by 10 non-governmental organizations that fight against racism…

In 2004, Sony was ordered to pay $300,000 Brazilian reais but the record label filed an appeal against the judgement, an appeal that they recently lost in the Civil Chamber of Rio de Janeiro. On Tuesday, December 29th, the court determined that interest and inflation on the value of the suit should be calculated retroactively back to 1997. At the end of 2009, Sony Music made a deposit in the court valued at $663,159.37 but this amount was deemed insufficient by the NGOs. According to the defense attorney of the NGOs represented in the case, Humberto Adami, black women were offended, exposed to ridicule and felt violated due to the lyrical content of the song. In his view, while the decision and value of the judgement shows an advance in these types of cases, racial issues are still not treated as they should be in Brazil.

“This decision is a direct message to show how the issue o racial inequality should be treated. It is a moment to celebrate. The compensation won’t even go to the authors of the lawsuit. The money will go to the Diffused RightsFund of the Ministry of Justice”, comments Adami. 

Adami claims that the damages paid in the suit are the highest ever paid for compensation of a racist act in Brazil. Even so, he maintains that: “The quantity is still small when compared with other elements of moral damages like injury and defamation.”
Well damn. What were the lyrics exactly? Have a look:
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)

Well alright now. Kinda makes “Dance/A$$” by Big Sean seem like a nursery rhyme right?
Read more about the entire debacle here.

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