Concerns over face coverings among men of color

The decision for men of color, in particular, has become difficult on whether to wear a mask or not so as to not seem threatening to other Americans.
4:04 | 04/09/20

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Transcript for Concerns over face coverings among men of color
because coronavirus is affecting people of color at a higher rate. Look at a startling statistic for deaths among African-Americans in areas like Milwaukee, Chicago and Louisiana and on top of that, some are concerned about taking one of the precautions recommended by the CDC and that's wearing a homemade mask in public. Steve osunsami has more and joins us this morning from Atlanta. Good morning, Steve. Good morning, to you, robin. It is a tough decision for men of color in particular. Should you wear a face mask to stay safe or not wear a face mask to stay safe? The concern is a real one that wearing a face covering might make you seem more threatening to other Americans. This is video recorded on a cell phone at a Walmart in eastern Illinois last month. These two say they were asked by the police officer to leave because they were wearing face masks in the store. He just followed us from outside, told us we cannot wear there is a presidential order. There is a state order and he is following us right out of the store. We're being asked to leave for being safe. Reporter: In response to the incident and video wood river police are investigating and say the officer asked for identification and the two men refused. Police also say the officer seen on camera following the men to the exit did not ask them to leave the store. In a statement the police chief did side with the two black men saying that his officer was incorrect and that no matter who it is, I support the wearing of a nonsurgical mask or face covering when in public during the covid-19 pandemic period. While the CDC is now encouraging Americans to wear face coverings in public, black and brown men are having to decide whether doing so is worth the additional risks of getting racially profiled. We do have to worry this concern about being perceived as threatening may inhibit some young black men from wearing masks and thus protecting themselves from contracting coronavirus. Reporter: The U.S. Surgeon general who's African-American helped produce this showing how easy it is to make your own face It's that easy. Reporter: But many black men are nervous about wearing one. On Twitter actor and comedian caylin Allen writes I just don't feel comfortable as a black person wearing a scarf or bandanna if I need to go purchase essential goods and from an editorial from "The Boston globe" Aaron Thomas writing, I will not be covering my face until I am able to obtain a face mask that is unmistakable for what it is. What I do not trust is the innate biases and lack of critical thought about the implications of these decisions. National crises like these can bring out the best in people and they can also bring out the worst in people. Those who have existing bias against black people, hispanics, other folks are unfortunately maybe more likely to act on those sorts of impulses. Reporter: All this is coming at a time when we're starting to learn just how much more deadly the virus is for black and brown in Louisiana more than 70% of people who have been killed by the virus are black. So what we're finding is those people specifically in African-American communities, they're waiting longer periods of time to get to the emergency room and often presenting in a more aggressive late term of this covid-19 virus. Reporter: Hearts breaking in Detroit for the family of vin certificate barber. He and his wife married in October. She thinks he got sick after a haircut. He didn't make it. He was only 39. He was a dynamic preacher, an awesome musician. He is just a great guy. Reporter: Health officials now believe that wearing face coverings does some part to stop the spread of disease and they believe that everyone no matter the color should be wearing them in public. George. Yeah, but such a difficult decision for so many. Okay, Steve, thanks very much.

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