Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so today’s feature is a follow up to a recent controversy involving the comment of a singer in boy band posted a few days ago. The singer recently attempted to clarify his original statement to deflect accusations of racism on his part. As news of the story spread, numerous people, including popular rappers, came forward to condemn the singer’s statement. And then, adding another twist to the story, a black fan of the group stepped forward to defend the singer against the accusations. Below is the latest. We will weight in on this later in the post….But for now…
“Racist is whoever comes in my photos calling me sour whitey,” says Fly member after controversy
By Leonardo Torres
Caíque Gama, a member of the boyband Fly, which stated that “for those who have bad hair, [braids] are a salvation,” tries to turn the tables in the middle of the controversy of racism. The singer, who locked his Instagram due to a number of hate attacks, used that same space to vent to fans. Called a racist, he tried to reverse the situation and put himself in the position of victim. “Racist is whoever comes in my photos calling me branquelo, azedo (sour whitey). You don’t know my roots, you don’t know my family, you know nothing about my life. All you know is a misplaced and misunderstood statement,” he wrote. “This is much more serious than you can imagine. Here is my apology to those who were offended. OF COURSE it was not the intention. I never thought that a phrase could cause so much discussion and chaos.”
According to the young man, who also saw old tweets of homophobic content of tweets come to light, he understood what that he acted wrong – but “prejudice is in the eye of those who read the story and called their opinion to race, a color.” Caíque ensures that did not refer to any color or ethnicity. “I meant that wearing braids as salvation of a day in which your hair isn’t as nice. People understood it very, very wrong,” he wrote. “Whoever doesn’t know me will come insult me, come saying a thousand crappy things, people including hunting down subjects, bullshit we did in the past to rub this in our face. I’m thinking we’re here to learn and evolve. The whole situation only teaches me to be more and more careful with words, since we are public figures and opinion makers of children and adolescents.”
Another member of the group, Nathan Barone, who sings with Caíque in the group admitted that he lost his tone. In a message posted on Facebook, he said he also did not agree with his friend, but that his partner was not malicious. “He spoke badly at the moment. We’ve already talked to him about it.” Even with the apology, the rapper Karol Conká spoke out against the group. She posted an illustration of a young black woman metaphorically kicking elitism, racism, sexism, homophobia and a magazine for which Fly gave the interview. “If the little band is called ‘Fly’, then fly far away from here,” said the image. “Our cabelo crespo (curly/kinky hair) is beautiful! No one says to us women, we should behave ourselves. Girl, behave as you wish.”
Black fan defends Caíque Gama of Fly from accusations of racism: “I have always been treated very well”
By Leonardo Torres
Amid accusations of racism that Caíque Gama, of Fly, has been receiving for saying that “braids are a salvation for those who have bad hair,” a black fan came out in his defense. A resident of São Paulo and follower of the boy band, Larissa Prado used all her social networks to express herself publicly in favor of the idol, who has received criticism of all sorts since his interview with a teen magazine had negative repercussions. According to the fan, she has followed him for over two years and Caique, as well as the other members of the group, always praised her black power (afro) hair, her braids and her turbans. “Plus, I ask you now, WHERE is it that’’cabelo ruim’ (bad hair) has to be automatically associated with blacks? Since when is it the fact that ‘bad hair’ is just for blacks? In fact, hair can begin with a ‘bad day’, and this is not only for blacks. So will it be that he is really racist to have used this term for any type of hair, or you that victimize yourselves and associate bad hair to black people? Rethink.”
The young woman’s discourse reiterates that of the singer and the magazine itself, which also used the “bad hair day” to divert the focus of which was published. But Larissa doesn’t stop there in the defense of the meaning of the phrase. She says that in the presence of the idols, she never witnessed manifestations of racism. “I’m black and I was never mistreated by them nor by anyone on the team,” she tweeted. “I’ve always been treated very well. Whoever doesn’t know, shut up and don’t express yourself.” In other tweets, directed to Caíque she said “I’m black and I only know what racism is, and from you I only received love” and “I gave up my dreams to realize yours and it was the best choice I ever made, I love you.”
I’ve already expressed myself on this matter in all my social networks, only lacking here and it’s really here that I close this subject. Since yesterday I’ve been defending Caique, and then I say, CAÍQUE, not my idol. But a human being. Unfortunately, or even fortunately, because we should all take as positive the thing he made a statement to a question in a way that MANY interpreted in the way that they wanted. But what I will emphasize here is that, for more than two years, I’ve followed him, for more than two years he and the other two band members praise my hair, my style, and my color. What’s more, I ask you now, WHY is that that “bad hair” has to be automatically associated with blacks? Since when is the fact of “bad hair” only being for blacks. In fact, hair can start the day off in a bad day, and that’s not only black. So will it really be that he is racist for having used this term for ANY type of hair, or you that victimize yourselves and associate bad hair to blacks? RE-THINK!
The issue of “bad hair day” didn’t stick for most people. Rapper Karol Conká recorded a video ordering Caíque “to shut up and sit down.” Guilhermme, of P9, pointed out that they were trying to make people stupid, “Thank goodness Brazil had already imagined this, right? Will it be to put braids in ‘cabelo bom’ (good hair)? Must be lack of trança (braids), I mean…transa (understanding).” The last to comment was rapper Emicida, who wrote: “cabelo ruim? Nothing, it is bonzão (very good). The bad thing is having to explain to these ‘farts in crumbs’ racists that the name has been crespo (curly/kinky) for five centuries.”
During the snowball that the case became, Caíque Gama locked his Twitter account and changed the user to escape offenses. But before he did, he made a post that made it worse. He said: “Racist is whoever comes into my photos calling me branquelo, azedo (whitey, sour). You don’t know my roots, you don’t know my family, you know nothing about my life. All you know is a badly put and misunderstood statement. (…) Whoever doesn’t know me will come insult, come to talk crap, including a thousand people hunting down subjects, bullshit we did in the past to rub it in our face. I’m thinking we’re here to learn and evolve. The whole situation only teaches me to be more and more careful with words, since we are public figures and opinion makers of children and adolescents.”
Note from BW of Brazil: So there you have it. How do you see this situation? Was it all simply a misunderstanding? Did the singer simply say something that came out wrong but without bad intent? In some ways, I can see both sides in this issue but it is not quite as simple as the fan or the singer would like that we believe. Why? Well, it’s like this. I wouldn’t argue that the guy is a raging racist that hates black people (as in the case of the futebol coach, Dunga), but his attitude about the whole situation is appalling. Perhaps we can cut him some slack as he appears to be pretty young. But on the other hand, after his initial reaction and then his attempt to portray himself as the victim after his own error, he is completely out of line. He is the one who made the statement and as such, he should simply admit his error, clarify what he was saying and then understand how some people could feel offended by his comment. Some public relations advice would be a good idea here.
My next point is for both the singer and the young fan. Again, I don’t see the guy as a raging racist, they must understand that, historically, in Brazil, as in other countries, the natural hair texture of black people has always been the focus of ridicule and racist jokes. And as such, we can’t simply excuse his comment because anyone can have a “bad hair day”. Why? Because in his original comment, by referring to the usage of braids, he is clearly speaking of persons of African descent. As white women usually have naturally straight hair which is the accepted standard of beauty and also because white Brazilian women generally don’t wear their hair in braids. It is clearly a cultural trait associated with black women. Even if a white woman were to wake up to a pile of frizzy hair of which she would label a “bad hair day”, typically, she will not put braids in her hair as a solution. As such, due to the historic nature of racism that rejects the natural hair of afrodescendentes (persons of African descent), excusing the comment because persons of any race and not just blacks can have a ‘bad hair day’ is simplifying the problem while not addressing the root of the association of “cabelo ruim”, or “bad hair”, with black people. Regardless of how many times a non-black woman wakes up to a “bad hair day”, she will never be automatically associated with having hair that is judged as being unattractive.
The last point to the young fan would be that simply because she personally has been respected by the young singer and has never been mistreated by the singer or his group, this doesn’t automatically mean that he or they don’t harbor any racist sentiments. In a Brazil in which has harbored anti-black sentiments for centuries and still deny its racist nature, this attitude and the denial of it when it appears is as Brazilian as capoeira or caipirinha. As we saw in the case of the young black gymnast who became the target of a racist joke on the part of his teammates who he saw as his friends, the racist attitude can appear at any time. We also know that even if a person is willing to have close or sexual relations with a person of another race, this also doesn’t automatically mean this person doesn’t see himself as superior to any one person of another race or the entire group belonging to that race.
The bottom line here is that someone needs to explain to this young man the long history of Brazil’s rejection of afro-textured hair so that he may understand how he should be more careful with his choice of words, that is if it is true that the wrong words just slipped out, which can happen. In the end, this whole ordeal is just another example of how a racist culture can be immersed into the minds of its citizens. The solution is not to continue the same old denial of the fact, but rather taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions. Until that happens, Brazil will always remain the ‘racial democracy’ that really isn’t.