So the American Red Cross recently distributed a pool safety poster titled ‘Be Cool, Follow the Rules’ that depicts the dos and don’ts of public pool etiquette. It shows children playing in and around the pool with signs pointing saying ‘cool’ and ‘not cool’ in an attempt to distinguish what is acceptable and what is forbidden.
Since being distributed to pools in Colorado, the American Red Cross has recalled the posters after a Twitter storm deemed it racist. They cite that the ‘not cool’ arrows are almost entirely assigned to the actions of the black children, where as the white kids are cool as a cucumber.
While the poster was likely not created with malicious intention or to make a racial statement, Red Cross has to understand that shit can snowball on social media. As a large company, you have to treat everything you do like a game of Operation. You gotta be a Boy Scout.
Whether for better or worse, we’ve reached a day and age where you have to ask yourself ‘Am I being racist?’ ‘Am I being insensitive?’ Which has merit in that it promotes racial empathy and understanding, but this landscape can also be dangerous for people who really aren’t racist. Because even though it’s probable that the illustrator didn’t KNOW he was being racist until Twitter trolls told him he was and even though it’s likely that a humanitarian organization aimed at providing emergency services for all isn’t a racist entity, there are no exceptions in the racial sensitivity game. You’ve got to try not to be racist in order to not be racist. You’ve got to stop and wait for the rest of us. By people calling Red Cross ‘racist’ online, what they’re really saying is ‘we’re not ready for this.’ I hope that in my lifetime we can look at a pool poster for what it is: a fucking pool poster with some kids behaving and others acting like shitheads. Not there yet. Evidently, not even close.