Wearing A Mask Comes With Anxieties For African-Americans

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Over the past few months, mask-wearing in public has become the norm. In some states, it’s even required. But for Black Americans and young Black men in particular wearing a mask can feel like a catch-22. Public health experts now say masks are crucial for preventing the spread of the virus, which has disproportionately affected Black people. But putting on a mask can be an intense source of anxiety for many Black people particularly Black men who worry that they’ll be harassed or profiled while they’re wearing one.

Director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, ReNika Moore said almost  immediately after mask-wearing became widespread, there were anecdotal reports of Black men being followed and asked to leave stores because they were wearing masks”.

A new study underscores just how widespread this kind of profiling could be. were much likelier to perceive a young Black man as threatening or untrustworthy if he was wearing a homemade mask or a bandanna, compared to a white man around the same age.

“There’s no doubt at this point that masks keep people safer from COVID-19,” said Marc Hetherington, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the authors of the study. “But certain types of masks may also be putting young Black men in danger of harassment or profiling.”

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