Red Cross Issues Apology for ‘Racist’ Pool Safety Poster

A Red Cross pool safety posted that some have called racist. (Photo: Courtesy Margaret Sawyer)
A Red Cross pool safety posted that some have called racist.
(Photo: Courtesy Margaret Sawyer) 

The Red Cross is developing a new pool safety poster after some criticized the organization for being racially insensitive in a previous version of the poster.

Margaret Sawyer said when she first saw the Red Cross poster depicting “cool” and “not cool” pool behavior, she assumed it was outdated. The only examples showing “not cool” behavior involve dark-skinned children.

“I just kept thinking ‘It looks like they’re trying to do something here that shows all kids together of all different backgrounds but they’re clearly not hitting the mark,'” she said.

William Fortune of the Red Cross, said the children in that photo “were more designed to be children rather than any racial motivation.”

Fortune said the poster was never meant to be offensive, and the organization strives to be inclusive.

“We’re committed to diversity and inclusion in everything that we do,” he said.

The poster also caught the attention of Ebony Rosemond of Largo, MD. Rosemond runs an organization called Black Kids Swim, a group dedicated to helping African-American youth engage in swimming.

She said America has a history of racism surrounding pools and swimming. She noted a history of violence toward African-Americans to discourage them from swimming in public pools, and beaches that banned African-Americans which forced them to swim in dangerous locations.

She called the poster step backwards.

“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.

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SOURCE: KUSA TV Denver – Whitney Wild