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Red Cross apologizes for 'racist' pool safety poster

John Sawyer/Twitter
John Sawyer/Twitter

An American Red Cross Hospital signboard that carried a "super racist" message about swim safety guidelines for children prompted an apology from the hospital on Tuesday.

The poster, which has since been taken down, read: "Be Cool, Follow the Rules." Below the text showed children playing. The white children were labeled as behaving "cool" while children of color were depicted as misbehaving, or "not cool," for breaking pool safety rules.

American Red Cross has since confirmed that it has discontinued the production of the poster and has already removed it from the hospital's website and Swim App.

"The American Red Cross appreciates and is sensitive to the concerns raised regarding one of the water safety posters we produced," the hospital released in a statement to NBC News. "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."

"Going forward, we are developing more appropriate materials that are more representative of our workforce and the communities we serve," the statement continued. "Our aquatic instructors have been notified of these concerns and we will advocate that our aquatic partner facilities remove the poster until revised materials are available."

Despite the hospital's efforts, some people are still not satisfied with the response.

"I'm just a citizen, I'm not an organization, but I would want the Red Cross to collaborate and build relationships with Black Kids Swim and other organizations that do advocacy around this so that this doesn't happen again," said said Margaret Sawyer, the former executive director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. "Clearly, they're thinking of themselves as only having one constituency and that's not true."

Sawyer had taken the photo after seeing the poster twice while traveling with her family in Colorado over the weekend. She is now mobilizing efforts to send formal letters to Red Cross and to the mayors of both cities, Salida and Fort Morgan, to demand that the posters be taken down and replaced at pools nationwide.

Read the full story on NBC News.