LOS ANGELES - Some activists and academics across the country believe wearing a mask can lead to racial profiling for people of color.
Jody Armour, a Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Law School, said black and brown people are faced with a dilemma when it comes to the decision to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask.
"When I heard the advice that everyone should wear a makeshift mask, it seemed to me a little tone-deaf from a racial justice perspective," said Armour.
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Armour is not alone in his sentiments. On social media, dozens of people of color talked about the potential threat of racial profiling. An economics professor at Ohio State University, Trevon Logan, also expressed concerns Tuesday in a CNN interview.
"We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of black men in general," said Logan.
Armour said wearing certain articles of clothing can be perceived differently depending on who wears them.
"Sometimes you can take the same apparel like a hoodie and you put it on a black person like Trayvon Martin, and it's interpreted very differently than if that same hoodie is on a non-black person. You could almost call it wearing protective masks while black is a concern just like driving while black is," he said.
There are incidents reported of profiling while wearing a mask across the country.
"Now that COVID-19 public health problem is aggravated by black stereotypes and phenomenons of racial profiling. For a black person in America who wears a makeshift mask or homemade mask or bandana, the fear of being mistaken for a dangerous criminal may be greater than the fear of contracting COVID-19," said Armour.
Armour said people of all races have to unite against discrimination.
"We have to embrace our black and brown brothers and sisters and say that we are not going to automatically jump to the conclusion that you are a criminal because you are wearing a hoodie or protective mask. I hope that we will take collective responsibility for it and approach it as a public health problem that requires a public response and a public solution," said Armour.
The concerns of wearing masks come as new data suggests African Americans face a higher risk of death from COVID-19 than other races.
"That information is very alarming and very disturbing. We can still believe based on the early data that the racial disparities are playing a role," said Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson.
Wesson said the new data raises a concern about equality.
"In the future, we probably need to treat racism as a public health crisis because we would not be in this position if we didn't have disparities in our health system today," said Wesson.
Wesson said there are efforts underway to make sure everyone is getting access to resources.
"It is critical for us to ensure that resources are being distributed in the right places so that we can help put together a game plan and address this. They're [county leaders] are doing everything they can to move testing facilities to the southern part of the county," said Wesson