The American Red Cross has apologised for a pool safety poster at the Salida Pool and Recreation Department in Colorado which has been accused of hidden racial biases.
The poster depicts a variety of children enjoying the pool—some of those ways being dangerous and against the rules, which is “not cool.” What made the image controversial to some is that the poster depicts almost every child doing something ‘not cool’ as black, while the others who are ‘cool’ are not. The only ‘cool’ behavior is from white children.
Check out the poster here:
— John Sawyer (@JSawyer330) June 21, 2016
— Star Jones (@StarJonesEsq) June 27, 2016
— Pedro Rios (@Pedroconsafos) June 21, 2016
Red Cross responded to people concerned in a statement: “We deeply apologise for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organisations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day.
“To this end, we have removed the poster from our website and Swim App and have discontinued production. We have notified all of our partner aquatic facilities requesting they take down the poster. Our organisation has emphasized to our partners and on social media that it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone and apologised for this inadvertent action. We are currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward.
“Once again, we apologise for any inadvertent misunderstanding with regard to the production of this poster, and believe we have taken every step to address the situation.”
@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
Ebony Rosemond, who runs the organisation ‘Black Kids Swim’, told The Washington Post that African-American children face discrimination at public pools. “The current state of affairs is unfortunate, and images like the one created and circulated by the Red Cross make things worse. In connection with the lack of images showing African Americans excelling in swimming, the poster doesn’t make you feel welcome — it suggests to a black child that you’re not welcome here.”