Is This Red Cross Poster Racist?

| by John Freund
Red Cross posterRed Cross poster

An educational poster put out by the Red Cross, with the intention of teaching children about swimming safety, has stirred anger over it's alleged racial message. 

According to Inquisitr, the poster, entitled "Be Cool, Follow The Rules," was spotted in two separate public pools in Colorado by Margaret Sawyer, former executive director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project.  

The poster depicts children playing in a pool area, with signs referring to the white children as "cool," while children of color are labeled as "not cool" for breaking the pool rules.  

Sawyer claims she first spotted the poster while on a trip with her family in Salida, Colorado.  She reported her concerns to the lifeguard on duty and wrote a letter to the facility, calling for the poster's removal. 

NBC News reports that Sawyer the saw the same poster at a different pool in Fort Morgan, Colorado.  That's when she snapped a photo of the poster and posted it to social media, where it drew thousands of comments.  

"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," said Sawyer. "I hope the Red Cross will use this as a lesson for taking their role seriously."

In response to Sawyer's social media post, the Red Cross has issued the following statement: 

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.

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.

Sawyer remains unsatisfied with the Red Cross' response.  "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," Sawyer said.  "Clearly, they're thinking of themselves as only having one constituency and that's not true."

Sawyer is now mobilizing efforts to send formal letters to the Red Cross as well as the mayors of both cities -- Salida and Fort Morgan -- to demand that the posters be taken down and replaced at pools nationwide

Sources: Inquisitr, NBC News / Photo credit: Twitter via NBC News

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