Greetings again, folks!
Jordan here. Last week, I spoke to you about verbal lore and how our scary stories can save us. This week, I want to talk about material culture and its significant role in our current times as we navigate the intersection of two public health crises: the COVID-19 global pandemic and structural racism.
Material lore is, quite simply, the things we make. You’ll see it in food and quilts, architecture and crafts, and, recently, homemade pandemic masks and protest signs. Often, people think folklore is a thing of the past, and that those remnants of history are long outdated. But all the recent use of material lore, especially masks and protest signs, reminds us that folklore is alive and well in the present too, always intertwined with our daily lives.
In the early stages of the pandemic, our frontline healthcare and essential workers were experiencing a shortage of protective equipment as they were exposed to the virus while trying to save lives, especially here in the United States. To reserve medical masks and protective equipment for frontline workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the rest of us find creative ways to cover our faces and protect ourselves and others.
Bring in the folk!
Creative solutions popped up left and right as we, the folk, not only designed and created homemade face masks but also built guides for others to make their own protective coverings. If you’re like me and don’t have a sewing machine, you might remember using a folk guide for making a mask out of a folded bandana, hairbows and a coffee filter. Luckily, some of my craftier friends (thanks, Sydney and Cristina!) made me these lovely little lightning bug and floral masks.