The American Red Cross has issued an apology over the above poster, which had apparently been distributed to swimming pools across the country. Promoting pool safety, the poster advocates “Be cool, follow the rules!” and attempts to point out what “cool” and “not cool” behavior consists of. Hey! Who doesn’t love pool safety! It’s got a cartoon whale on it and everything!
Unfortunately what it’s also got is a hefty and fairly blatant dose of racism, as the children on the poster engaging in “not cool” behavior are almost entirely of color, while the white kids sensibly play it “cool.” How do we know blondie over there isn’t planning some shenanigans on that diving board, Red Cross?
The poster began raising eyebrows when it was distributed last week, catching the attention of Ebony Rosemond, who runs a youth organization called Black Kids Swim in Maryland. Rosemond called the poster “a step backwards,” pointing out that America always had a history when it comes to racism and swimming at public pools and beaches.
“When I saw the poster, I just, was just very saddened that the Red Cross had chosen to put out an image that might one, discourage African-Americans from trying swimming if they were new to it, and also something that would extend a negative stereotype,” she said.
“How can an organization that prides itself on being so open-minded, so understanding of the diverse populations of the world create something like this?” Rosemond said.
The American Red Cross was quick to pull the poster from the organization’s website and Swim app. They also said that they have discontinued production in a statement apologizing for their blunder.
We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organizations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day.
The organization claimed they were “currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward,” which sounds like it’s probably a good idea.