Being Required To Wear A Mask Is Not A 'Civil Rights Issue,' You Dense Cabbage

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Being Required To Wear A Mask Isn't The Same As Slavery, For Crying Out Loud
Scary Mommy and Megan JELINGER/Getty

When the conversation of reopening the country began, people had no problem making their feelings known. Namely white people. Arming themselves with signs, banners and semiautomatic weapons, they stormed state capitols to show their rage. And what were they protesting? Wearing a face mask and observing social distancing. Wild, I know. But the wildest part is some of the verbage protesters used on their signs. There is a photo of a white woman holding a sign comparing wearing a face mask to slavery. Let that sink in for a second.

It is utterly astonishing that something like this is even a thing I have to say. Then again, when it comes to white America, nothing is ever surprising. Being required to wear a mask to shop at Target isn’t the same as fucking slavery, Karen.

Look, there’s nothing pleasant about wearing a face mask. But this is what life is for the foreseeable future. Perhaps if you and your fellow protestors spent more time worrying about others instead of yourselves, you’d realize something. If you stay your asses at home and wear a mask, maybe this virus will slow down and we can get some luxuries back. Standing on the steps of a state building whining about not being able to get your roots done is bad. But saying that’s even remotely anything like what millions of Black people suffered through? Not a good look at all.

“Muzzles are for dogs and slaves. I am a free human being.” Oh word? You think that it’s okay that slaves had to wear “muzzles?” That doesn’t seem like it is a worse thing than wearing a face mask? Really?? Also, let’s talk about the comparison of dogs and slaves here. Slaves are human beings. They’re human beings who were taken against their will and forced to serve people who didn’t see their value. Dogs are animals. They’re pets. What the actual fuck?

You know what I find interesting? You’re out here protesting, and you can do that with ease. No one will give you another glance for screaming at the top of your lungs about your “oppression.” But if I was to do the same thing, it would be an issue. Like, if I was protesting actual oppression, you and your Karen brigade would be calling me a hoodlum. But Black people are protesting not being killed, and white people are protesting about wanting Baskin Robbins. Totally the same thing, right?

Being made to wear a mask may feel oppressive, but like, it’s not. Not even a little bit. At this point, it’s a public health service. We can talk about real oppression, but you’re probably not going to like what I have to say. The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was beyond oppression, but since you also want to compare your problems to slavery, let’s do it shall we?


Imagine being ripped out of your homeland. Being physically ripped out of the hands of your loved ones. Or stolen away in the night. The people who stole you force you onto a ship and chain you to the ground. You are pressed against two other people, and all of you are lying down. And there you remain, no end in sight. You’re forced to relieve yourself in the same spot where you’re lying. People are dying all around you. The stench of urine and death hang in the air like perfume. All of this while you’re on a ship thrashing wildly at sea for months.

When you finally arrive, you’re herded off the boat like cattle. And then you’re sold to a white man. This man tells you that your name is no longer yours, you’re someone else now. You don’t know the language where you are, and you’re forced to learn a new one. So now you’re in a place you don’t know serving people you don’t know. One thing you know is, your life is no longer yours to live.

Everything I just described is what actual slaves had to go through. The shackles they wore dug into their skin, leaving permanent scars. Slaves didn’t have the freedom to even keep their names. That’s oppression. Not you being unable to get your fucking acrylics filled in. I’m not sorry when I say that you’re not allowed to use the word slavery and oppression until you learn what they really mean. No one is trying to take away your right to exist. They’re just making sure you’re not spreading a disease. What about that is so hard to understand?

Nothing about COVID life is easy. It’s exhausting to get out your front door only to realize you’ve forgotten your mask. A lot of people don’t have the means to let things like packages and groceries sit a safe distance away or decontaminate them. Fighting with young kids to wear a mask is a nightmare. This new normal is hard and all of us wish it was over. There’s no question of that. But there’s only one way to get back those things we want: safely following necessary protocol.

Asking people to follow necessary protocol and safety measures isn’t oppression. It is at most, a minor inconvenience. And having people wearing a mask when interacting with the public is literally the least we can do. And even though it’s our government making the request, they’re not even legally enforcing the ask. Honestly, it’s basic common decency at this point. How could you equate that to one of the grossest forms of injustice? Where does one’s mind make the leap to even put those two things in the same sentence? This isn’t something I can wrap my head around.

Of course, after the image went viral, the woman in the picture, in true Karen form, backtracked and apologized.

“As I had no sign of my own, it was handed to me by another protester and a photographer took the picture before I considered the racist implications,” she told the Humboldt Times-Standard. “My intent was to take a stand for the freedom of all human persons and I mistakenly held a sign that conveyed the opposite.”

It may not have been her intent, but you can’t tell me she didn’t know what that sign meant. You can’t just feign ignorance to get out of trouble. That’s not how this works. Again, wearing a mask to keep people safe isn’t anything like slavery. Your privilege is showing, and it’s gross.

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