WUSA: 'When I was a kid police would shoot you if you had a mask on' - Some fear racial profiling during the pandemic

Ana

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Dec 12, 2018
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Experts say racial profiling in the pandemic is a growing concern among African Americans.

“To be young and black in America is to be, on some level, fearful every time you step out the door with or without a mask,” said Dr. Ibram X. Kendi.

Dr. Kendi is one of America's leading historians and anti-racist voices. He is also the director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University.

“It's a concern for myself, even when I go out and I run in the morning with a mask on. I'm always concerned whenever I pass the police car,” Kendi said.

And it's not just Kendi who's concerned.

“I can tell you some stories that happened to me when I was kid out there in the streets that would make you cry,” said one 79-year old D.C. native who spoke to WUSA9, but asked not to be identified. “When I was a kid the police would shoot you if you had a mask on.”

As of this week, masks are mandatory at all District grocery stores. The Centers for Disease Control also now recommends wearing a mask anywhere you go public to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus.

“It's already well known among us that when we wear particular clothing, when we look a particular way, we look even more 'dangerous,' so I think that's why it's a major concern for many black men,” said Kendi. "But at the same time, if someone, a police officer or regular citizen does something to us, because we're wearing a mask, they are the problem, not us. And so that's what I'm trying to tell myself.”

Two black men in Illinois posted a video to YouTube when, they say, they were escorted out of a Walmart for wearing masks.


 
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