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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.
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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Perez, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison and Kate Winslett. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.
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