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Black Man Pens Powerful Thread About Privilege When It Comes To Being Able To Wear A Non-Medical Mask In Public

Robin Gentry / EyeEm via Getty Images

The CDC has now revised its advisories to have folks wear masks or other face coverings outdoors.

Medical grade masks are in short supply, so people are being told to make their own or use scarves or bandanas.

But when you're not a White person, that opens up an entirely new can of worms that most of us may not have considered.

Two Black men posted a video from a Wood River, Illinois Walmart showing a white police officer trailing them through the store, after telling them not to wear masks.

The men were clearly wearing medical style masks.

Coronavirus in woodriver Illinois

The men stated:

"We're being asked to leave for being safe."

User Aaron Thomas continued this conversation on Twitter—noting how both wearing and not wearing a mask threatened his life as a Black man.

With increased police presence in some places—such as New York city—enforcing social distancing, this becomes all too real of a threat.

There is a shortage of N95 masks, prompting the guidance for masks from the CDC to be extended to be any piece of fabric that covers the face.

However, this complicates the problem further.

People of color are routinely criticized at best and attacked at worst for wearing face coverings, even if they coverings are religious in nature.

Thomas expanded on his thoughts in an opinion piece for the Boston Globe titled:

"Why I don't feel safe wearing a face mask: I'm a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive, but I also want to stay alive."

There is no data yet on police response to the use of masks, aside from the incident in Illinois.

Hopefully people will spread Thomas' message. People need to come together to tackle this pandemic.

That support needs to include making sure the protections available to some are available to all.

The book White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son is available here.