During months of pandemic isolation, Wesley Morris, a critic at large for The New York Times, decided to grow a mustache.
The reviews were mixed and predictable. He heard it described as “porny” and “creepy,” as well as “rugged” and “extra gay.”
It was a comment on a group call, however, that gave him pause. Someone noted that his mustache made him look like a lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P.’s legal defense fund.
“It was said as a winking correction and an earnest clarification — Y’all, this is what it is,” Wesley said. “The call moved on, but I didn’t. That is what it is: one of the sweetest, truest things anybody had said about me in a long time.”
On today’s episode of The Sunday Read, Wesley Morris’s story about Blackness and the symbolic power of the mustache.
This story was written by Wesley Morris and recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.