Laila Ali has is facing some serious backlash on social media after posting a statement defending those who do not wear masks and are unvaccinated on Wednesday (Aug. 18). Her comments were posted on her Instagram story but has since been deleted. In her message, Ali claims that people who do not wear masks or choose not to get vaccinated are not denying the existence of the virus but are just choosing to “trust their own immune system like they have been doing their whole lives.” She went on to say that anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers as exercising a “God given choice” and were displaying “a kind of faith” that is “impossible for some to comprehend.”
She added that her followers should withhold judgement of people who refuse to get vaccinated. “Before you claim they are ‘putting others in danger,’ you should do your own research to learn if that’s actually true.”
In the final line of the post, she encouraged her fans to exercise their free will in making the decision to get vaccinated by simply saying, “YOU DO YOU!”
A Twitter user reposted a screenshot of the story and a strong response stating the women’s heavy weight champion was “wildin with anti-mask, anti-vaxx, anti-science and conspiracy religious rhetoric.” Other users agreed.
One person responded with a photo of Ali’s father, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, getting vaccinated. The photo including in this tweet was also attached to a Twitter statement released by the Muhammad Ali center in March honoring those who died of COVID-19 and thanking those who worked to develop the vaccines.
Another user called Laila out for her use of faith as a way to argue against science and reminded her that being faithful and believing in science are not mutually exclusive.
However, some people believe that Ali was justified in her remarks about trusting one’s immune system. One user tweeting that there is “nothing wrong” with allowing people to let the virus run its course with no protection.
Ali’s statement comes at a time when the Delta variant of COVID-19 is posing a grave threat to the public health of the United States, especially in communities of color. The potential danger of the variant has even led the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci to encourage masking for vaccinated people yet again. As of Wednesday (August 18), every ICU bed in Alabama was occupied and the number of new cases nationwide is approaching winter 2020 levels — a time that was described as the darkest days of the pandemic.