A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

what’s in a name? cleaning products in bad taste

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 12, 2007

After lunch this afternoon (a rather delicious lentil salad that I make whenever I feel the urge to be at once lazy (its very easy) and French (it reminds me of Paris)) I decided that it was time to bid adieu to my kitchen sponge.

I knelt down and opened the doors to the cupboard below the sink and grabbed what I took to be the bag of replacement sponges, left over from the renovation work done before I moved in here.

After standing back up, I looked at the bag and saw …. this:


In the United States, “steel wool” is an old, unflattering and deeply judgmental term used in the early and mid 1900s to describe African-American hair.

Sometimes the explicit racism of this region leaves me speechless.

At other times, of course, it sends me to the internet.

Negro Steel Wool is sold by Oscar Weil, a German company which sells steel wool products under several different brand names to various markets around the world.

Although Negro is not listed under the company’s “brands”, it does appear in a product suite photograph:


Negro, Oscar Weil’s only Middle Eastern market product, is also absent from the company’s “countries” map, which shows Oscar Weil brands and the countries in which they can be found. I find it appalling that this company still sells a product under the brand name “Negro”. No doubt there are arguments centering on ‘brand equity’ and ‘market-share’ – none of which impress me.

As for Lebanon and the rest of the region, this to me seems at once a terrible exporting of Americana and a classic case of what we call “the pot calling the kettle black”.

After all, this is hardly a region known for its abundance of naturally straight hair.

As for me, I’m throwing out the bag and putting the remaining steel wool pads into an FAA-approved, quart-sized clear plastic bag.


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