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Face masks leading to potential conflicts in black community

“If I put this [mask] on and I walk into the store, it’s going to look crazy.”

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While it’s recommended everyone wear a mask when leaving the house, people in the African American community say that’s easier said than done.

It’s no secret that this country struggles with racial issues, and particularly for minority males, the reality is wearing a mask in public could put an unnecessary target on their back.

“We want them to stay safe, but in the back of our minds were saying, ‘Oh my God, I pray to God this person makes it through the day, through tomorrow, through next week,” said Reverend Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP.

Mack says that’s the sinking thought a lot of minorities get when their sons, brothers, nephews and husbands leave the house wearing a mask.

“While we’re trying to keep ourselves safe, there are others who’d see us as criminals,” Mack said.

Credit: WCNC
LaQuan Shewprashad wonders how others perceive him as an African American man wearing a black hat and black mask.

LaQuan Shewprashad says he knows the feeling.

“You put the mask on, since it’s black it’s just like, I’ve got this black hat,” Shewprashad said. “If I put this on and I walk into the store, it’s going to look crazy.”

Shewprashad says in those situations, he doesn’t know what to do.

“Sometimes I get nervous so I take it off,” Shewprashad said, “but being that you’re in the store, you’re supposed to keep it on because you’re around other people. Sometimes it’s just a toss up.”

“Many of us know that when we wear the mask, we’re dealing with a whole other issue that may cost our lives,” Mack said.

Mack says black men shouldn’t have to take a mask off to make others feel comfortable, especially considering African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

“But more importantly, we have the worst outcomes,” Mack said. “We are dying.”

This is a reality Mack knows personally. She says the coronavirus has taken several of her family members in New York and New Jersey.

“I lost a sister and law, brother in law, aunt, cousin,” Mack said, “I have two sister in laws in the hospital right now, ventilated.”

Because we’re all trying to stay healthy, Mack says she hopes people of all colors will consider this as we weather this pandemic.

“I’m simply asking folks to get back to our humanity,” Mack said.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department says if you feel harassed while wearing a mask, you should call the police and ignore what’s being said instead of engaging.

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