Aaron Thomas, Why I Don’t Feel Safe Wearing A Mask
“I’m a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive, but I also want to stay alive.”
A couple days ago I started rolling out my portrait campaign COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma to help raise awareness around the increased racism AAPIs are facing during COVID-19. But AAPIs are not the only people of color facing increased racism for covering their faces as the CDC recommends. Black people are also facing increased racism and aggression for wearing masks, bandannas, and other coverings in public (see Aaron Thomas’s great piece above). Meanwhile, because of anti-black and oppressive systems already in place in the US for hundreds of years, Black people (and Latinx, Indigenous people, people experiencing poverty and/or homelessness, and people living with disabilities) are now disproportionately losing their lives to COVID-19. It is all part of the SAME white supremacist structure. And so, I’ve decided it’s critical to expand my campaign to include Black experiences around mask-wearing and safety during this pandemic. Thank you to my friends, the Felders, for being the first to share their images and words. Please share if you can.
We are loveDonte, Bayje, Tanisha
We are grace
We are calm
We are strength
We are family
Pictured: Donte is a longtime educator and award-winning playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer. He is a community leader and organizer who brings students and community together through media arts, storytelling, and social justice learning. He taught with Seattle Public Schools for over two decades and is currently turning his student program South End Stories into a city-and-countywide nonprofit. Tanisha is the Director of Equity and Family Engagement in the Shoreline School District. An educator in the Seattle Public Schools for 16 years, Dr. Brandon-Felder specializes in race and equity, culturally responsive practices and, primarily the achievement and opportunity gap occurring with Black and Brown students. Bayje is a 12yo student who is passionate about singing, acting, dancing, and sports. She loves her family and friends and has three mottos: (1) Be yourself because everyone else is taken, (2) Live life to the fullest, and (3) If you don’t feel it, don’t do it.
Safety notes: These photos were taken at safe distance outside using a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens. I wore a mask and sanitized my equipment immediately following. The Felders are a family which is a why they are standing close together. Please remember the CDC recommends at least 6-ft or more of distance from those outside your family cluster.