For over a month, the White House insisted that Americans did not need face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19. By April 3, the White House formally recommended face masks and said if you could not find a mask, use T-shirts or bandannas.
However, for members of the Black community covering your face might make you more vulnerable to police harassment.
Kalen Allen, who frequently appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, wrote on Twitter, “I just want to say, that I do agree with wearing a mask but I just don’t feel comfortable as a black person wearing a scarf or bandana if I need to go purchase essential goods! Is that crazy?”
Writer Aaron Thomas wrote for the Boston Globe, “I will not be covering my face until I am able to obtain a face mask that is unmistakable for what it is. Let me be clear: This is not because I do not trust the advice of the CDC — I do. I believe in science, and I have followed all of its guidelines up to this point. I know masks work, and I trust the CDC’s recommendation. What I do not trust is the innate biases and lack of critical thought about the implications of these decisions.”
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A March 18 video from Jermon Best and Diangelo Jackson showed the two wearing medical masks at a Woodriver, Illinois Walmart and they were followed by police.
See the video below:
Not covering your face due to fear of violence and police harassment is a serious reality considering Black men are three times more likely to be killed by police. Additionally, the coronavirus is impacting Black communities disportionately.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.