American Red Cross and its racist poster


Let’s play a game of Spot the Racist Images. (Answers at the end of this post).

The American Red Cross’s recent blunder is a great example of why diligence and diverse perspectives and experience are necessary in the workplace.

I doubt this would have happened if they had someone who was versed in implicit bias (even a little bit) and/or knowledgeable about how stereotypes portray Black kids in a generally negative light as rowdy, violent, and unwilling to follow rules.There also would have been a lesser chance of this poster being approved, replicated, and distributed across the country had the Red Cross ensured a work environment that promoted open, honest, and respectful dialogue, as well as creativity, and intellectual curiosity. Mere interrogation of the images that went beyond, “Is the poster colorful? Does it depict good and bad examples of pool etiquette? Does it have our logo on it?” would have prompted a discussion that ultimately led to the realization that the poster was racist, alienating, and marginalizing.

Finally, the likelihood of this poster making it to pools across America would have been greatly reduced if, dare I say, the American Red Cross had a Black person, or any person knowledgeable about the pervasiveness of racist stereotypes, and how those stereotypes unconsciously influence our every day lives, working on this poster campaign in a meaningful role.

Answers to Spot the Racist Images game: the white kids are following the rules and thus are “cool” while the Black kids are breaking the rules and thus are “not cool.” The images managed to be both clearly racist while also subtly advancing negative stereotypes of Blacks and positive stereotypes of whites.