Is this poster “Super Racist”?

**UPDATED image of poster2016-06-27t12-12-35-6z--1280x720.nbcnews-ux-1080-600

So what does a racist poster look like? Is it a poster where children of only one colour are shown as if the other colour doesn’t exist? Is it a poster showing children of two different colours but where only one colour is shown in a positive light? Is it a poster where cool and not cool are not divided evenly along racial lines?

Let’s look closely at the above poster  and break it down numerically.

Question: How many white children have been labelled cool?

Answer: Two, one boy and one girl.

Question: How many white children have been labelled not cool?

Answer: Two, both boys.

Question: How many brown children have been labelled cool?

Answer: Zero

Question: How many brown children have been labelled not cool?

Answer: Four, three boys, one girl

On the basis of these numbers alone we can conclude that more brown children have been shown being labelled not cool than white children, and that no brown children have been labelled as cool at all. There is also a sexual imbalance, with boys overall of both colours being labelled uncool. Labels, though, do not represent the whole poster as it also shows responsible behaviour from brown children that is simply not labelled.

The most responsible job, the lifeguard, is shown as a brown child. Isn’t that cool? The lifeguard is a girl, isn’t that cool? Brown and white children are shown swimming together, happy and having fun while following the rules. Isn’t that cool? There may be an imbalance if you go only by the labels but isn’t that being a bit precious? Would anyone have said anything if the majority of the not cool labels were on white children? No, of course not.

Here is a racist poster to compare it with. What do you think? Are they both racist or is only one racist? If they are both racist, is the pool poster also sexist because cool and not cool isn’t evenly split between girls and boys?


When Margaret Sawyer first noticed the Red Cross safety poster at a pool in Salida, Colorado, she thought she was looking at an unfortunate relic of the past.

When she saw it a second time at an entirely different pool in the central Colorado town, she was shocked, according to NBC affiliate KUSA.

“I saw this one and I just kept thinking, ‘It looks like they’re trying to do something here that shows all kids together of all different backgrounds but they’re clearly not hitting the mark,'” she said.

Not only were the poster’s designers not hitting the mark, Sawyer thought, they had created an image that was racist.

Sawyer complained to a lifeguard at the first facility and penned a letter to management asking for the poster’s removal, she told KUSA.

After seeing the poster a second time, she posted an image of it online.

“I felt really angry,” she said.

The poster – titled “Be Cool, Follow The Rules” – depicts various children playing at the pool.

But white children are labeled as behaving in a “cool” way while children of color who are depicted defying pool rules are labeled “not cool.”

…The Red Cross apologized for the “Be Cool” posters in a statement that was posted online Monday.

… John Sawyer tweeted, “Hey, @RedCross, send a new pool poster to @SalidaRec bc the current one they have w your name on it is super racist



Margaret Sawyer screenshot-facebook


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