A swimming pool safety poster for an American Red Cross hospital has been criticized as “racist” after depicting white kids as cool and kids of color as misbehaving and “not cool.”
The Telegraph reports:
The poster, headed “Be Cool, Follow the Rules,” depicts several children playing around a pool, with labels identifying their behaviour as “cool” or “not cool.”
The poster became the subject of ire on social media after one mother noted that it was predominantly white children in the poster labelled as “cool”, and non-white children labelled “not cool.”
Margaret Sawyer, from Ventura in Calfornia, first spotted the poster at a pool in Colorado while travelling with her family. She immediately voiced her concerns about it to the pool’s lifeguard, and later wrote to the facility urging the poster to be taken down.
When she spotted the same poster at another pool, she shared an image of it on social media, where it drew widespread attention.
“I’m just a citizen, I’m not an organization, but I would want the Red Cross to collaborate and build relationships with Black Kids Swim and other organizations that do advocacy around this so that this doesn’t happen again,” Mrs Sawyer told NBC. “Clearly, they’re thinking of themselves as only having one constituency and that’s not true.”
“I think it’s really important to think about the messages that we’re sending kids, I ask for all of us to take that job on. I hope the Red Cross will use this as a lesson for taking their role seriously.”
— John Sawyer (@JSawyer330) June 21, 2016
The American Red Cross has since discontinued the poster and removed it from its website. The humanitarian organisation issued a statement saying: “The American Red Cross appreciates and is sensitive to the concerns raised regarding one of the water safety posters we produced.
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.
@JSawyer330 Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We’re removing this from our site immediately & are creating new materials.
— American Red Cross (@RedCross) June 21, 2016
“Going forward, we are developing more appropriate materials that are more representative of our workforce and the communities we serve. Our aquatic instructors have been notified of these concerns and we will advocate that our aquatic partner facilities remove the poster until revised materials are available.”
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