It seems like every day, messaging about safety precautions for the prevention of the spread COVID-19 is changing. Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti advised residents to wear masks. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging Americans to wear masks and encouraging people to make homemade masks due to a shortage. But, CNN reported that some people of color do not feel comfortable wearing masks in public, let alone making them themselves due to possible discrimination.
With over 200,000 confirmed cases of the virus and the death toll surpassing 4,000 people, Americans are taking COVID-19 more seriously. And it was recently reported that black Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate.
Safety is a real concern for many black and brown people as it relates to the health crisis—as well as their livelihood and freedom. And some believe that homemade masks will jeopardize that.
Being able to wear masks without being targeted as a criminal has never been the case for black and brown people—even when they are called for. And for that reason, many people of color, activists, and academics are not in agreement with the measure.
CNN spoke with Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, who shared his take on the matter
“We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of black men in general,” Logan, who is black, told CNN. “And then we have the advice to go out in public in something that … can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to black men.”
In the article, Cyntoria Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University, shed light on how the way people show up and safety aren’t synonymous.
“People of color have to make conscious decisions every day about the way they show up in the world and are perceived by others, especially the police,” Johnson said.
As a part of the CDC’s recommendation to wear masks, they released a YouTube video of Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, demonstrating ways to create masks. www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPx1yqvJgf4
In a statement to CNN, Adams said, “Health equity, and the complex interactions between race and health, have always been an area of emphasis for my office. I understand the concerns communities of color would have about being racially profiled, and am working with the NAACP, the NMA, and other organizations representing people of color to ensure no one is unduly harmed by COVID-19, or, our response to it.”
Wearing bandanas and face coverings can be dangerous for black and brown people in underserved communities —especially those with gang activity. Beyond gang activity, people of color are often targeted by police officers and those with authority. And some people can’t help but question America’s history.