Goode Mustache A Black Thing Blacks Have Higher Percentage

Posted: November 16, 1990

Here I thought Wilson Goode and I were two glabrously cool home slices.

Until a few days ago, neither one of us was wearing a mustache.

But what does my depilated brother do?

Stop shaving over his upper lip.

I don't knock his tonsorial change.

When you're up to your gluteus maximus in bankruptcy alligators, it is difficult to remember that your initial mission was to clean the swamp.

If Goode believes that a mustache will change his municipal budget luck, he might also try consulting a fortune-teller, a voodoo doctor and a medicine man.

Actually, by growing a mustache, Goode is copasetic with the African- American experience.

This is a statistical fact: a far greater percentage of African- American males than white males wear mustaches today and have always worn mustaches.

Years ago, cops had a canard: Be suspicious of a white man wearing a mustache and a black man not wearing a mustache.

In my book, "Tell It Like It Is" (a collection of my columns from 1958 to 1964), a 1963 column is titled "Why Negro Men Wear Mustaches."

One day, I just happened to notice that the overwhelming majority of black elected officials, civic leaders, ministers, businessmen and national civil rights leaders wore mustaches.

And I listed all of them in the column.

Today, more white men are wearing mustaches and more men of both races are wearing beards.

If a dude can look as handsome as Kenny Rogers, Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Calif., or Bobby McFerrin, grow a beard!

But ethnic disproportionality in hirsuteness still prevails.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, 29 percent of the white congressional males wear mustaches. Two wear a beard.

But almost 2 1/2 times that percentage - 69 percent - of the black congressional males wear mustaches! And three wear beards.

Nationally, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Jesse Jackson, Rev. Leon Sullivan, NAACP executive director Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks, National Urban League president John Jacobs, Arsenio Hall, Billy Dee Williams and the Eagles Minister of Defense Reggie White, are all beautifully mustached.

The publisher of Ebony, the best-selling black magazine, John H. Johnson, wears a mustache. But successful white magazine magnate Rupert Murdoch doesn't. The following is the gravamen of that 1963 column:

Historically, the Negro has always been considered a boy. He was called ''boy" even after he won his Ph.D. from Harvard. . . . And many a Negro has to ask a white man occasionally: "How big do boys grow where you come


Nevertheless, some years after the Negro began to feel his emancipated oats, he decided to prove to the white man that he, too, was a man. He didn't go out and build any huge factories or develop any new industry.

He didn't establish any big banks or corner the market on the manufacturing of goods. He didn't become a financier.

He sat down and grew a mustache.

And he hasn't stopped growing those mustaches.

If we drive a Cadillac, we must be rich. If we grow a mustache, we must be men.

And then, several paragraphs later, I conclude:

Yes, Negro men wear mustaches. And they're men.

White men wear mustaches and they've got all the money.

Let me quickly concede that this may be sociological oversimplification.

Ethnic physiognomy is affected by black mustaches.

If Wilson Goode looks nicer and is happy about his new mustache, I'm all for him.

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