Beginning Friday, Illinois will require residents to wear a face covering in public spaces where they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing. The mandate, part of Gov. JB Pritzker's modified stay-at-home order, has sparked concern among some residents who fear the requirement could lead to an increase in racial biases. So, they're encouraging their fellow Illinoisans to briefly show their faces whenever entering a public place, such as a grocery store or pharmacy.
The "Tip Your Mask" initiative was launched by The Village of a Thousand Elders, a group that aims to "reduce racial bias and increase respect between Citizens and Police nationwide." According to KWQC, various police departments in Illinois have co-signed the initiative, which will purportedly put business owners, employees, and other patrons at ease.
"If people were to commit a crime, they wouldn't tip the mask because they’d be caught on camera," said Rev. Wonder Harris, the founder Village of a Thousand Elders. "Crime comes in all colors. You can't just say that just because they're a particular color, they'll commit a crime. So it's something all of us have to do. And It's not just using old standards and ideas and we can't have a peaceful society to do it that way."
Rev. Donald William Johnson echoed the statement: "We really want to eliminate and dilute and stop any sort of confrontation. So if I tip my mask, then persons know I’m not out to do anything wrong. Because that's the typical thing people think of with a mask."
The initiative conflicts with the World Health Organization guidelines, which states individual should abstain from touching their face masks while using them. If you do touch the mask, you're advised to "clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water"—steps that may be difficult in certain situations.
"Some people, particularly those in our communities of color, are apprehensive about wearing a mask. What once may have been viewed as an attempt to conceal identity, now is a public health recommendation," Moline Chief of Police Darren Gault told KWQC when asked about the initiative. "This requires all of us to make adjustments in everyday situations. I am encouraged that our community leaders are looking to collaborate on ways to help adjust to a new normal. It is important that our community plays an active role in helping us all adjust to these new ways of living, interacting, doing business and supporting the economy. These are just some of the new challenges we will all face over the next several months. It probably won’t be the only conversations we have about how to deal with situations that we haven't even thought of or prepared for yet."
The initiative has met opposition on social media with people pointing out that it would be counterproductive to touch your mask while out. Others argued that the initiative feeds into racial biases.
This is a problem. https://t.co/QAj9nRSJMN— Jonαs Chαrtock (@jonaschartock) April 30, 2020
This is not "a program aimed at eliminating racial biases." This is *catering* to racial biases, and privileging irrational racist fear over black people's health. Don't shop at businesses that make you do this. They shouldn't be open any fucking way. https://t.co/BLRJiKmkDN— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) May 1, 2020
What’s the F’n point in wearing a mask if businesses want you to “tip your mask” upon entering?!? Like that negates the entire reason of wearing the mask in the first place, once you do that you’re exposing yourself to whatever is in the air. 🤦🏽♀️— KB (@KB_2_0_) May 1, 2020