The American Red Cross has apologized for a water safety poster that has been called racist for showing black people engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Margaret Sawyer was traveling with her family in Colorado when she noticed the poster on two separate occasions.
“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,” Sawyer told NBC affiliate KUSA.
“How can an organization that prides itself on being so open-minded, so understanding of the diverse populations of the world create something like this?”
The Red Cross apologized on Twitter and made a public statement claiming that it was never their intention to offend anyone.
“The American Red Cross appreciates and is sensitive to the concerns raised regarding one of the water safety posters we produced,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “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 said they have removed the poster from their website and mobileapps. And continued to say “it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone and apologized for this inadvertent action.”
However, some folks just wondered why the Red Cross would ever publish the poster in the first place.
— John Sawyer (@JSawyer330) June 21, 2016
Ebony Rosemond, who leads the organization named Black Kids Swim, said that African-American children face discrimination at public pools that typically discourage them from taking up recreational swimming.
“The current state of affairs is unfortunate, and images like the one created and circulated by the Red Cross make things worse,” Rosemond told The Washington Post. “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.”