Oregon County officials received racist backlash after issuing a mask mandate exemption for people of color which has since been removed.
What We Know:
- Oregon County officials say the mask mandate was meant to address racial profiling. Lincoln County leaders say, “The expressions of racism regarding the exception has created a ripple of fear throughout our communities of color. The very policy meant to protect them, is now making them a target for further discrimination and harassment.”
- Residents are required to wear face mask in public settings, indoors or outdoors. This if the first known place in the United States to exempt people of color if they fear harassment.
- County leaders are now facing backlash and “horrifically racist commentary” because people argue the policy makes people of color more of a target for harassment and discrimination according to the statement. Lincoln County has a population of less than one percent Black people and 90 percent White people.
- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s mask requirements require residents in seven counties to wear masks in indoor public spaces without the exemption of people of color. Activists and educators have said Black people and Latino Americans don’t feel safe wearing face masks because it makes others see them as a criminal.
- Trevor Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University and a Black man said, “This (wearing a mask) seems like a reasonable response unless you just sort of take American society out of it. When you can’t do that, you’re basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there.”
According to the American Public Media Research Lab, Black people are dying at higher rates than any other ethnicity. Their mortality rate is 2.3 times higher than the rate of White and Asian Americans.