Update: Lincoln County dropped its mask exemption for people of color, citing racist backlash from the community, according to The Oregonian.

An Oregon county won’t ask people of color to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic over worries about racial profiling.

What’s going on?

  • Lincoln County, Oregon, currently requires most residents to wear face masks or coverings in public settings.
  • The county — an area with about 90% white residents, according to CNN — will not require non-white residents to wear masks if there is fear over harassment, the county said.
  • CNN said: “It’s one of the first counties in the U.S. to exempt people of color from wearing masks to prevent racial profiling.”
  • People with disabilities or medical conditions whose breathing could be hindered from the mask also won’t be required to wear the masks.

This is about safety, according to ACLU

  • ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, said the face mask can be lose-lose for Black people, according to New York Post.
  • Moore said: “For many Black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandanna in public to protect themselves and others from contracting coronavirus is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way.”
  • Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University (via New York Post): “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.”