Red Cross Tells Black Students Their Blood Can Go to ‘Little Black Kids in Africa.’

December 1, 2011  |  

Parents of students at a New Jersey high school are demanding answers from the American Red Cross after their children said a worker told them they could give two pints of blood if they wanted to because they were African American and their blood could be given to “the little black kids in Africa.”

When the mother of one of the students contacted the Red Cross for answers, she was told African Americans are often asked to give more blood to help fight sickle cell anemia, but the Africa comment couldn’t be explained. Later, the organization said they couldn’t verify that the event actually happened and issued a formal statement, saying:

“The American Red Cross fully embraces inclusion, and actively works to build diversity awareness and sensitivity among its staff and volunteers.

After the Red Cross was notified of the concerns about remarks made at the Penn’s Grove High School Blood Drive on November 1, 2011, we immediately looked into the matter and were not able to substantiate the accusations. On the contrary, our workers noted the positive turnout for this special collection which encourages African American donors — the ethnic group most affected by Sickle Cell Disease, to donate. Sickle Cell Disease affects 1 in 12 African Americans, or approximately 70,000 people in the United States. While there is no cure, the painful symptoms of this disease can be prevented by regular blood transfusions.

Blood products that are collected here in the Penn-Jersey Region remain in the region and are redistributed to the approximately 100 area hospitals that we serve.”

Penns Grove Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Massare, says the school district is working with the Red Cross to investigate the incident and will not tolerate any racist comments. To the Red Cross I say, nice try with the sickle cell cover up but that doesn’t excuse the “unsubstantiated” event.

What do you think about the Red Cross’s response? Should they have taken the incident more seriously?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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