Red Cross Sorry For Blatantly Racist Pool Safety Poster

Margaret Sawyer was shocked when she encountered a blatantly racist ‘swim safe’ poster at a public swimming pool in Salida, Colorado.

Titled Be Cool, Follow The Rules, the poster, produced by the Red Cross, shows Black and white children engaged in various activities around a public swimming pool.

Arrows pointing to the children are accompanied by the words ‘Cool,’ or ‘Not Cool.’

As you can see from the image below, all of the dark-skinned children are misbehaving in the picture. The labels placed on these kids read ‘Not Cool.’

In contrast, the white boys and girls are shown doing something acceptable. These kids are labelled ‘Cool.’


Image credit: John Sawyer via Twitter

After seeing the poster, Sawyer says she reported her concerns to the lifeguard on duty. She also followed up by writing a letter to the management of the facility.

She assumed that would be the end of it. At the time she, she says, she believed that the poster was printed years ago and just never taken down.

When she and her family visited another Colorado pool, this time in Fort Morgan, Sawyer was shocked to find the exact same poster on display there. She again reported it to management.

She also took a photo, uploading it to social media.

The public backlash that followed prompted a quick response from the Red Cross:

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 organization went on to say:

“Going forward, we are developing more appropriate materials that are more representative of our workforce and the communities we serve.”

The Red Cross says it has removed the poster from its website and notified its aquatic partner facilities to take it down.

Sawyer, a mother of two, says the apology isn’t enough. She is calling on the Red Cross to partner with organizations like Black Kids Swim, as well as groups that advocate for people of color.

Sawyer is also calling on the public to write letters expressing their concerns to the American Red Cross.

During an interview with NBC, Sawyer said:

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.

Image credit: John Sawyer via Twitter