Recently, a TikTok user by the name “nashinstreal” posted a short video clip. That video was deemed to many users as racist. As a result of which, the TikToker received quite an amount of backlash from fellow TikTok users. Let’s know the meaning of Ras el Abed.
What was said in the video?
The TikTok user “nashinstreal” posted a video in which we can see an image of Tarboosh Candy. The video had the caption, “What do you call these in Arabic?”. The user then went on to imitate the tune which had the lyrics, “I can’t say on TikTok, it’s going to trigger people”.
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The history of Tarboosh
Gandeur, a Beirut-based company, is manufacturing this chocolate in all of Lebanon since 1857. However, the manufacturer decided to change its original name which was “Ras el Abed” as it supposedly had some racial connotations.
Its present name is “Tarboosh Gandour” also known as “Gandour’s hat”. Apparently, the manufacturer also decided to change “Ras el Abed” because of the criticism that they faced in 2011.
Roba Al-Assi, a Jordanian blogger first wrote in its blog about the problematic aspects that the name carried. He wrote in his blog, “I know the word ‘slave’ by no means has the same implications in Arabic as it does in English. Yet I can’t be less amused by the name of the marshmallow chocolate”.
Since then, various other influential people have come out to address the underlying racism and stood up against it.
The meaning of Ras el Abed in Arabic
The Arabic meaning behind this name is “the head of the slave”, or “the head of the negro”. Negro is an offensive and derogatory term used to refer to black people of African origins. Besides, it is generally used as abuse to describe slaves.
Hussein Wehbe, a popular blogger wrote, “The sweet product that looks like a brown or black head used to be called ‘slave’s head’ because of its color, which was considered a sort of racism even when it comes to a tiny detail of the Lebanese life”.
Other racist product names
This is not the only product that has used racist slurs knowingly or unknowingly and unfortunately will never be the only one. In past, a high amount of products had derogatory racist names. Some of them have changed their names realizing the mistakes while others have still retained the original name.
Sambo is the name of another chocolate that is popular in Jordan. Not only the name, but the character on the package is also an abusive term used to describe people of African origins.
Apart from them, popular gems like “Uncle Ben’s” and “Aunt Jemima” also used racist stereotypes to describe slaves. However, they realized their mistake and changed the name to “Ben’s Original” and “Pearl Milling” respectively.
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