by Michael P Coleman

Are any other black men nervous about putting on a “face covering” and walking into a store, bank, or pharmacy?

I put “face covering” in quotations as I want to differentiate between those and the N95 and surgical masks that none of us should be wearing on the street. Rather, I’m talking about the face coverings that California’s Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the Centers for Disease Control and others are advocating to help prevent and control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Now, don’t get it twisted: I am all for following the guidelines. I am getting very well versed at social distancing, doing my daily 5K very early in the morning (to avoid crowded sidewalks and paths) and limiting store trips as much as possible. I’ve even dived into online shopping, which I used to abhor.

Do you know what I abhor more? Death.

So I’m trying to adhere to the guidelines, but I continually reach a stumbling block over those face coverings. I made a few from old t-shirts that I’ve shrunken out of (shameless plug there — there’s a correlation between that shrinkage and daily 5Ks!), I’ve ordered some cheapies from Amazon, I’ve tried a bandana, and my crafty sister has even mailed me a few homemade ones from Florida. Hers are due to arrive any day, and something tells me I’ll have to wear one of those just ‘cause my little sis made them.

But I’ll be uncomfortable doing so, and I’ll tell you why: I’m a former black boy who had to learn how not to look like a criminal when I walk into a store.

And a mask, bandana etc — in this country, at least, kinda screams “stick ‘em up”…especially when the eyes above it are framed in beautiful brown skin.

READ MPC’s full column here, including his take on “well meaning” white folks who are loving their masks! 

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP



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