Wear Your Damn Mask
Why your face and mask is the most iconic duo
Here’s the most iconic duo of all: YOUR FACE AND A MASK!
Over the past few months, we’ve heard about and even seen people on video refuse to use their masks in public. They insist that they have a right to not wear one or that the rest of the population is allowing the government to control their lives. They become irate when asked to wear a mask for the protection of employees and other customers. They refuse to acknowledge the severity of the current situation and can’t see past their interest. They scream at the top of their lungs about their rights, not taking into consideration that others have the right to safety. Rights are not limitless and endless. Therefore, there is no such thing as the right to not wear a mask when it means putting at risk the rest of the population.
As Americans, we claim to have a right to freedom in the United States. People often refer to the first amendment, which grants, in theory, the right to free speech and other forms of expression. However, such freedoms often tend to be corrupted by the individualistic culture that is heavily enforced and encouraged in our capitalistic society; we are often encouraged to only think of ourselves. Collective action is something that is part of human nature. However, the natural desire to work together is corrupted because there is power in numbers. This has become very evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the over-emphasis on individualism is firing back.
Limitations of free speech/ individual freedom and accountability to the minorities of this country are ways to protect such freedoms. When white people decide that they are allowed to do whatever they want, they are taking away from the rights of the minorities that are often abused in this country. Being able to refuse to wear a mask shows different levels of privilege that most people do not think about. Privilege allows people to be careless because they have access to resources that many communities do not. Statistically, minority communities have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, not just health-wise, but also in terms to access to food, education, and health care.
WEAR YOUR GODDAMNED MASK. PLEASE WEAR IT CORRECTLY TO SAVE LIVES!
This is not an issue of freedom of choice. When you as an abled bodied white person choose to not wear a mask, you put others at risk. You are also flaunting your privilege; many people who come from marginalized communities are often attacked and abused at any excuse. In reality, black and brown bodies do not have the same protection from authorities and police as white people have. A black or brown person who refuses to wear a mask in public could easily be putting their life in danger because of the very possibility of retaliation from the police.
I know the mask can get uncomfortable at times, and it is difficult to adapt to this new “normal.” However, the most important thing right now is to stop the virus from spreading. As working-class people, we must show solidarity with each other regardless of identity. However, we must also be conscious that certain communities often tend to receive the most damage and the least amount of help during times of crisis; we must keep each other safe when our government fails to do so. We must be aware of the disparities in this world and work towards dismantling the system that makes it okay for certain people to be selfish during a global pandemic. When we protect the collective, we protect the individual. So please do the responsible thing and wear a mask when you are out in public, and follow the recommendations of the CDC and other experts.