A face mask directive issued by Lincoln County, Oregon, appeared to exempt “non-white people.”
The face mask stipulation was part of a broader directive, published June 16, which addressed the county’s continued response to the coronavirus pandemic following a recent spike in cases. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Wipes Her Nose, Touches Podium — House Members Demonstrate The Wrong Way To Wear Masks)
The directive first suggested that people should continue to practice social distancing and maintain a space of six feet or more between individuals, especially in public places and indoors. The mask requirement was not intended to eliminate the need for social distancing.
Several groups of people were mentioned as being exempted from the face mask requirement, including:
- people who had underlying health conditions that could be made worse by wearing a face covering
- children aged 2-12 were encouraged to wear masks but they were not mandated to do so
- people with disabilities or ailments that would make wearing a mask or face covering impossible
- “People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.”
Lincoln County, Oregon — an overwhelmingly White community — will not require non-White residents to wear face masks if they fear harassment, the county says. https://t.co/WODYTizgS8
— CNN (@CNN) June 24, 2020
The exemption for people of color was specific to Lincoln County — the Oregon state order on face coverings did not exempt people of color — appeared to be rooted in concerns that others might unfairly profile black men in particular if they chose to wear masks in public.
Ohio State University professor Trevon Logan told CNN in early April that, despite the CDC’s recommendation, he would not wear a mask in public because he felt that he would be judged differently.
“We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of black men in general. And then we have the advice to go out in public in something that … can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to black men,” Logan explained.
“This (wearing a homemade mask) seems like a reasonable response unless you just sort of take American society out of it. When you can’t do that, you’re basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there,” Logan continued, adding, “This is in the larger context of black men fitting the description of a suspect who has a hood on, who has a face covering on. It looks like almost every criminal sketch of any garden-variety black suspect.”
The Lincoln County directive also ordered that people who did not wear masks were not to be “intimidated or harassed” into compliance.