Why This Red Cross Safety Poster Is Creating Controversy

When Margaret Sawyer saw this Red Cross poster displayed at a pool in central Colorado, she asked the lifeguard to take it down. When she saw it again at a second pool, she posted it online.

"I thought, It must be really outdated. This can't possibly be a recent poster," she explained to KUSA. "I felt really angry."

The poster, titled “Be Cool, Follow The Rules,” was published by the Red Cross as a part of a 2014 safe-swimming campaign. It displays various children playing around a pool in order to display safe and unsafe pool behaviors, labeling them as “cool” and “uncool.” The problem? The only “uncool” children in the scene are children of color.
The Red Cross released an apology after Sawyer’s post:

"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."

The Red Cross has discontinued the poster and removed it from its website and Swim app. They have also requested that all of their affiliated pools take down the poster, as well.

You can read full statement by the Red Cross here.


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