Coining the sponges “Disco,” “Beehive,” “Punk,” and “Diva,” a spokesperson for Paladone says, “Our range of four washing up sponges are designed to make an everyday chore like washing up more fun.” Each of the sponges has a brillo pad Afro and even caricatures soul icon Diana Ross.
To Unite Against Fascism (UAF), an organization that sees itself as a counter to the growing levels of racism and fascism throughout the U.K., the sponges harken back to what we would call Stateside “Jim Crow memorabilia.” UAF General Secretary Weyman Bennet says:
What are we going to have next, toilet brushes like that? This is not appropriate for the 21st century to show images like that. It reinforces negative stereotypes and ideas. Although it’s aimed at being humorous, sometimes it’s not funny. We’ve spent 40 years removing racist imagery out of general politics, removing golly wogs, removing Black and Qhite minstrels, and it would be a shame if it crept back in.”
Not surprisingly, Paladone is reportedly gaining quite a profit from the new line and have no plans of pulling it, “The Disco, Beehive, Punk and Diva have sold hundreds of thousands of pieces. They have been a phenomenal success,” said the company spokesman.
Still Bennett believes — success or not — that the products should be pulled off of the shelves.
“They need to think again. Is there no way they can come up with positive views of people without just using negative views of Black people.
“Trying to compare Black people’s to brillo pads is not a really positive image – it’s not appropriate.”