Is it Just Me or is that Racist?

By Zerline Hughes

I’m real quick to point out disparity in anything. Especially when it comes to race. This time, however, I left it up to my son to point out the disparity – or not.

You’ve probably already heard about the Red Cross and their swim safety poster:


A tweet about the poster went viral, screaming that it was “super racist.” I took a look and said, “oh yeeeaaah” I wondered, though, had I received one in the mail, seen it posted at a local pool, if I would have even paid enough attention to see what the tweeter was talking about. But after honing in on it I did.

Still, I wanted to know what others thought so I asked my 13-year-old son. Now, he always knows when I approach him that a “life lesson” is soon to come, so I tried to keep it calm and cool and asked him to take a look and simply comment on it.

Guess what? He saw it, too. “All the Black kids are the ones doing the bad things,” he said.

Hey, we could at least say the poster’s illustrator made an effort to be all inclusive by making sure kids of color were represented. And the kids of color even have varied hues: dark chocolate, olive, light brown, medium brown. The Black kids are even rocking different hairstyles. This is great and I approve. But the actions of said kids vs what the actions of the White kids is not approved.

I wrote earlier about choosing the positive narrative, per Equal Justice Initiative Director Bryan Stevenson and his Washington, D.C. speech earlier this year.

“As Stevenson put it, we have to change this narrative. The narrative of fear and anger. The narrative that kids are “superpredators.” Too many of our criminal and juvenile justice problems are sustained by the narratives that have been created around fear, anger, racial injustice — the list goes on, he said.

” … we must change the narrative. In our roles as teachers, parents and family members, we must speak positivity, hope and change in our children. And we must do it early.”

But this is not just about this Red Cross poster. With These Two kids of mine, it’s about who gets chosen in class to go on a special school field trip – and who doesn’t; it’s about who is trusted in public – and who isn’t; it’s about who gets suspended from school – and who doesn’t; who gets kicked out of the children’s section of the library – and who doesn’t. And why? Catch my drift?

So let’s continue to change the narrative, report any and all instances without thinking, “Is it just me?” because it is not.


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