I gathered a few articles that particularly resonate with me as a black person in America, particularly the south where my state is considered a “hot spot”. My intent is not to cause an triggering or anxiety flares, but just to share some information in case this isn’t something that may have been buried under other headlines.

Being Black While Wearing a Face Mask

All around the world, we are seeing people wearing masks. And while there is a great debate on which ones are appropriate, the CDC suggested that something is better than nothing. But Aaron Thomas made a rather good point as to why he doesn’t feel comfortable wearing them. Even though there’s potential to protect him from possibly contracting the virus. And I totally get it.

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 are the innate biases and lack of critical thought about the implications of these decisions. I do not trust that I can walk into a grocery store with my face covered and not be disturbed. I do not trust that I will not be followed. I do not trust that I will be allowed to exist in my Black skin and be able to buy groceries or other necessities without a confrontation and having to explain my intent and my presence. I do not trust that wearing a make-shift mask will allow me to make it back to my home.”

Source: Aaron Thomas – Boston Globe

Black Mistrust of Medicine Looms

I still wonder why people aren’t listening–staying indoors, restricting kick-backs, etc. My initial take was maybe the denial was just fear-induced or because so many of us leaned on tenacious histories fueled by home remedies and prayers. With little, we made do and made it through. But this added another layer to understanding some of the apathethic approaches adopted by a lot of people that I know.

Historic failures in government responses to disasters and emergencies, medical abuse, neglect and exploitation have jaded generations of black people into a distrust of public institutions.

Some call such skepticism the “Tuskegee effect” — distrust linked to the U.S. government’s once-secret study of black men in Alabama who were left untreated for syphilis. Black people already suffer disproportionately from chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease and are far more likely to be uninsured.

How the government and medical community responds to the crisis will be especially crucial for outcomes among black Americans, civil rights advocates and medical experts say.”

Source: Aaron Morrison & Jay Reeves – abcNews

Why This is Not ‘The Great Equalizer’

When I came across this thread by Ida Bae Wells – @nhannahjones, it’s like I couldn’t stop reading. It led me to explore what and how COVID-19 would REALLY affect black communities and populations in particular.

Louisiana is a “Hotspot”

There are several of stories like the one below that constantly come across my social media feeds. It’s like I’m stuck in a cyclical whirlwind of trying to understand why things are they way that they are out here. And then I come across more articles like those that I’ve mentioned above and those with new theories that get me closer to possibly understanding why.

The fact that New Orleans sees new HIV diagnoses often means that patients at the clinic already walk in with the hurdles of health inequity and racial disparity, Seal says. “HIV itself accelerates aging and presents a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, and we are now seeing increased weight gain,” she says. “Many of these things identify as risk factors for [Covid-19 too].”

Seal points out that a reason why racial disparities in health care are more pronounced in the South is the fact that a number of governors, including former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. “It wasn’t until Jon Bel Edwards came in that Medicaid expansion was accepted. That helped a lot,” Seal says.

Source: Fabiola Cineas – Vox

There’s no getting back to “normal” for us. Major adjustments and shifts will need to be made and we’ll have to accept a new normal. I don’t know what that new normal is going to be, but without out a doubt it definitely won’t be like what we’re used to. Just having conversations with family and friends, we’re realizing just how far this will actually trickle down and affect us in ways we never even imagined.

As always, stay as safe as you can.

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  1. Daenel T.

    April 10, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    I pray you and your babies are doing well. Sending all of y’all love and hugs.

    When the CDC made this recommendation, I posted in a group that I’m in: “Black men cannot wear masks and live.” At first everyone thought I was talking about Black men being too proud to wear one. Once I clarified that I was talking about the fact that Black men can’t wear their faces, Black women cannot wear their hair, Black kids cannot wear hoodies, they understood and were, in a word, horrified that they hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t say it to condemn or provoke, but to help them understand the fear that I have for my sisters and brothers. And my kids. Seriously, what is the answer? This is all so freaking scary.

  2. Andrea

    April 11, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for rounding these posts up and sharing. I’m Black and I hadn’t even considered the racial repercussions Black men will inevitably face by walking around wearing a mask for safety so I know it’s not a thought for some white folks, especially those in power. And I totally agree about things not being normal again. That realization hit me hard when I went to Target and saw nearly every single person in the store wearing masks or gloves or some other sort of protective gear. This pandemic is definitely going to change so much about our daily interactions and interpersonal relationships, our healthcare system, and much more that we probably haven’t even given thought to. Headed to read that Twitter thread you shared. This…is…a…lot. 🙁

  3. Raven

    April 13, 2020 at 9:44 am

    This resonated with me so much, Carla. A male friend of mine shared the same fears in a way regarding Thomas’ point. He even stated he had a few stares when he chose to wear the mask. Things will not be the same and as we (Black folks) have always done we will adapt but I am curious about what this means for our daily interactions, relationships and systems as well.

  4. Amanda

    April 15, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    I would say my mother is a hypochondriac, but one of her students had just returned from Italy on winter break and wasn’t sure if they were infected. Shortly after, schools would close in NYC. She had a slight cough and immediately diagnosed herself with COVID-19. Telling her to relax, I understood why – diabetic, hypertension, no gallbladder, all reasons to worry. We called the “1-800” number to schedule for drive thru-testing. She received a call back three weeks later. I am in the epicenter of this pandemic and I get to watch the busiest city on the plant go silent. They aren’t giving us access to test, I had a very severe case myself of symptoms and on my visit to an urgent care facility they didn’t even test me for the flu. Unfortunately, I had to rely on my ancestors for their remedies. And to our black men, it’s the scariest thing to watch – let’s just say I’m close enough to the hood. These times are so uncertain. Be safe Carla!

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