The American Red Cross has apologized for a pool safety poster that, by some interpretations, can be deemed racist, KUSA (Denver) is reporting.
Margaret Sawyer tells the local NBC affiliate that she and her family were driving across the country, and when they stopped in Salida, Colorado, she saw a poster that caught her eye.
“I thought, ‘It must be really outdated. This can’t possibly be a recent poster.'”
She assumed it was a one-off thing — perhaps a case of a pool manager having old safety materials — until she saw the exact same poster at another Colorado swimming pool, this time in Fort Morgan.
A photo of the pool safety poster is posted below. See if you can spot the problem.
In case you didn’t get it, the problem, as Ms. Sawyer sees it, is this: All of the kids who are obeying the rules and enjoying the pool safely and properly have white skin and are labeled “cool.” The miscreant kids who are disobeying the rules and are labeled “not cool” all have darker skin.
The image was not lost on Ebony Rosemond of Largo, Maryland, who runs an organization called “Black Kids Swim,” which is focused on helping African-American kids learn to swim and enjoy swimming.
“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.”
In fact, in the past, African Americans and public swimming areas have had something of a strained relationship. Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, according to a 2012 BBC News report, it was not uncommon for blacks to be banned from public swimming pools or beaches.