With COVID-19 masks mandatory, smiles more important

picture of iris crawford wearing mask
Oakland Voices correspodnent Iris M. Crawford wears mask for protection from COVID-19. (Courtesy of Iris M. Crawford)
picture of iris crawford wearing mask
Oakland Voices correspondent Iris M. Crawford wears mask for protection from COVID-19. (Courtesy of Iris M. Crawford)

Oakland Voices asked our correspondents about their experiences since being forced to wear face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wearing a mask certainly comes with its own privileges.  

For those who are unable to get a hold of one, access to entering certain places is denied. Most recently, I was outside of Trader Joe’s on Lakeshore Ave in Oakland waiting in line to get groceries and an older gentleman was denied access from getting into the store. He tried to reason with the workers handling the line, but they had to follow the mandatory mask policy.

Wearing a mask certainly forces one to make more eye contact. You are forced to pay attention to the crinkle of someone’s eyes when they are smiling at you now that their mouths and noses are hidden. The ways of acknowledgment have become that much more subtle. 

As the weeks go by, very funky mask designs have started appearing. Lately, I noticed many faux designer patterned masks. The most common seem to be Gucci and Chanel.  

Lastly, I have actually seen a few people wearing face shields with the sides of their faces still completely exposed. I am curious whether that defeats the purpose entirely. Those particular individuals were not wearing any accompanying masks with the shields either.  

As the Bay Area begins to slowly re-open, it remains worrisome as people have begun getting lax in wearing their masks and properly sanitizing. I hope that people continue to stay safe and protected and realize that we are not quite yet over the curve.

Social distancing and the fight against COVID-19 continues.

Author Profile

Iris M. Crawford, is a poet and social justice advocate. Hailing from New York City, she is a first-generation Guyanese- American. Her journey has allowed her to empower communities through health care advocacy, education and environmental justice. In 2018, Iris was selected as a semi-finalist Fulbright Scholar for an English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa. She also just became a resident of the 2020 Shuffle Collective Literary Arts Residency where she will be working to strengthen her creative work, gain skills to continue growing professionally and build community. She earned her BA in Political Philosophy and African American Studies from Syracuse University.

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