Even as the country started re-opening, I never rushed to be first in line for anything. Whether it was outdoor or indoor dining, I was fine waiting until I was comfortable to take that next step. The CDC has been rather inconsistent so when they announced that fully vaccinated people can go without a mask, I had reservations. Retailers I follow on Instagram quickly came out with their own post that they still require masks indoors. Clearly, not everyone was comfortable with this change.
When asked how this would be enforced or verified, responses were “it’s an honesty policy.” Doesn’t it remind you of how individuals who committed anti-Asian hate crimes said it wasn’t racially motivated and people accepted that? When has an honesty policy ever worked? A rebuttal is that despite being vaccinated and continuing to wear masks, it signals that there’s something to be concerned about. I’ve learned from this whole process that no one will ever be on the same timeline. After traveling in Asia the last few years, I’ve observed that mask wearing is normalized as part of the culture. It signifies that one is being courteous to others or even protecting those around them. A friend mentioned to me that Americans sees masks as something to be cautious of. In television and movies, we see villains and robbers wearing masks to conceal themselves because they have something to hide.
You’re either up to no good or you feel like a piece of cloth is infringing on your freedom and rights. As we move forward, my concern is that because many Asians don’t find it discomforting to wear, they will continue to do so. It’s the kind of behavior that might continue to trigger the anti-Asian hate crime that we’ve been hearing about. And that brings this full circle to what we’ve seen in the last year. People don’t like to be told what to do. They want to be in control and they want those around them to behave the same way as they do. It’s never ending, isn’t it?