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

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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.”
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