Why Americans Are So Resistant to Masks

(This op-ed was first published in Slate on April 10, 2020.)

Richard Thompson Ford

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed itself and encouraged Americans to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. This week, some mayors have taken things further by mandating mask-wearing in public. As COVID-19 has upended every aspect of American life, masks are fast becoming the faces we show a world where every stranger might be carrying a potential threat. Our doctors are real-life masked superheroes who risk illness and death in their courageous efforts to treat the sick. For the rest of us, a mask, which seemed like overkill a few days ago, now looks like just the right amount.

(Continue reading the op-ed on Slate’s page here.)

Richard Thompson Ford (BA ’88), is an expert on civil rights and antidiscrimination law and has distinguished himself as an insightful voice and compelling writer on questions of race and multiculturalism. His scholarship combines social criticism and legal analysis and he writes for both popular readers and for academic and legal specialists. His work has focused on the social and legal conflicts surrounding claims of discrimination, on the causes and effects of racial segregation, and on the use of territorial boundaries as instruments of social regulation.