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A black man's viral commentary on face masks shows why it's not an easy choice for everyone

The coronavirus pandemic is being called a "great equalizer," and in some respects that's true. But unfortunately, the long-standing sociological structures of racism have not magically disappeared just because we're in a global crisis.

As a black man in America, Aaron Thomas has a perspective on the CDC's advice for everyone to start wearing masks in public—a perspective that many of us don't have. Thomas shared his thoughts on Twitter:



"I don't feel safe wearing a handkerchief or something else that isn't CLEARLY a protective mask covering my face to the store because I am a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive but I also want to stay alive. There is still the nuance of race that dictates our lives and the way we move through spaces, even in these turbulent times. So until I get a proper and official face mask ima have to run the grocery store like it's 1993 and I'm on Supermarket Sweep."


Since there is a shortage of surgical masks, people are making their own cloth masks, or using alternative face coverings. And some of the suggestions for what to use come across as incredibly tone-deaf. For example, in some places wearing a bandana "like a bandit," as Dr. Oz suggested, could get you killed.

And for black Americans who are automatically viewed with suspicion too often, any face covering might trigger prejudices that could also get them killed.

An editor from the Boston Globe reached out to Thomas and asked him to elaborate on his post in an op-ed for the paper. In it, Thomas explained how this pandemic is serving to highlight, not flatten, the inequalities that exist in this country due to race, ability, class, etc.

"The world is upside down right now with the coronavirus pandemic and we are living in a dystopian nightmare come to life," he wrote. "Still, we are living in an America where history dictates that, even in the most absurd times, hatred and bigotry continue to reign. We are still judged, convicted, and sentenced by race, by gender, sexual orientation, and class."

"Early reports highlight what many have predicted," he added. "Those who are impacted by COVID-19 are overwhelmingly people of color, poor people, the homeless, and those living with disabilities. This stems from a lack of equitable access to health care."

He also pointed out that black people in the U.S. are viewed with suspicion that can cost them their lives, even when they're doing things other people do without consequence.

"As this is a historical moment, it is important that we remember our history," wrote Thomas. "Black men and women in this country have been killed for any and everything. A child with a toy gun, a young girl sleeping in her family home, a man buying an air gun at Walmart. Knowing all that, I just don't feel safe. Even in a time of pandemic, the discrimination does not stop."

Thomas says that he trusts science and he trusts the CDC's decision to recommend mask-wearing—he just doesn't trust "the innate biases and lack of critical thought about the implications of these decisions."

"I do not trust that I can walk into a grocery store with my face covered and not be disturbed," he wrote. "I do not trust that I will not be followed. I do not trust that I will be allowed to exist in my Black skin and be able to buy groceries or other necessities without a confrontation and having to explain my intent and my presence. I do not trust that wearing a make-shift mask will allow me to make it back to my home."

Those of us who don't have thoughts like this need to recognize why that is. We all live in the same country, but we don't walk through it the same way. Our race, class, ability, gender, etc. impact our experiences and it's vital that we listen to how others are impacted by things that we are not.

Undoubtedly, some folks will complain that this post is "race-baiting" and ask, "Why do we need to bring race into this?" Guaranteed, most of those people will not have read this article this far. If you are someone who thinks that and has actually read to this point, please remember that just because something doesn't affect you personally, that doesn't mean it's not real. There's a reason Mr. Thomas's post went viral. His experience is not unique among black Americans.

The fear is real. The risk is real. Denying those things and trying to dictate what black people can and cannot feel is part of the societal structure of racism that makes the fear and risk real in the first place. Let's do better by listening to and believing people of color when they tell us what their life as an American looks like. That's the only way we're going to start breaking up the foundation of racism that makes a black man afraid to cover his own face during a pandemic.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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The study, conducted by sociologists at Ohio State, was recently published in the journal Social Forces.

According to researchers, dog-walking isn’t just about getting exercise—it makes us all security guards whether we know it or not.

“People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods,” Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the study, told Ohio State News. “They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent.”

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Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

Mosquitoes are attracted to certain viral smells in both humans and mice.

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There is evidence that mosquitoes are attracted to the odor given off by mice infected by the parasite that causes malaria. Now, a team is looking at how the scent of mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and Zika would attract mosquitoes to people rather than mice.

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