The American Red Cross on Monday apologized for a water safety poster many have deemed racist after it depicted mostly minority children doing “not cool” things in a public swimming pool.
The poster — titled “Be Cool, Follow the Rules” — shows more than a dozen cartoon children playing in a pool. It points out five instances in which children are engaging in “not cool” activities, like running around the edge of the pool, pushing their peers into the water and diving. Four of the fictional rule-breakers are either black or Hispanic children.
“We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “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 nonprofit humanitarian group said it has removed the poster from its website and Swim App, discontinued its production and ordered all swimming facilities displaying the controversial poster to take it down. “We are currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward,” it said.
A photo of the poster made its round on Twitter, where it was flagged to the Red Cross. It had been spotted in at least two locations in Colorado, NBC News reports.
The Red Cross declined to say how many of those posters had been placed in swimming facilities nationwide.