Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Nation of Cowards

I love the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has a moustache. It reminds me of my own days of “cowardice”—in the days following college graduation when I was afraid to shave completely. Since the latter part of high school, I’d been rocking the Malik Yoba goatee; he was a big star back then on the TV series New York Undercover. Toward the end of college, though, tired of all the trimming and shaping up, I decided to nix the chin whiskers, but I just couldn’t let the moustache go.

Growing up, virtually every male in my family had a moustache, from the slim, trimmed back off the upper lip, Chappelle-esque ‘stache to the full-out, Richard Pryor, what-you-got-hiding-up-under-that-thing handlebars. It’s a sort of African American male staple. I suppose in a nation where, not even as far back as half a century ago, you were prone to be called “boy” on a regular basis, growing out a symbol of full-fledged adult masculinity was more than a matter of personal grooming—it was a political statement.

So you might imagine with all the self-affirming mustachioed figures of my youth, how I could honestly be afraid of shaving above the upper lip. It’s a fear not unlike that which Eric Holder referred to last week: the fear of looking beyond that which one is accustomed to, of stretching beyond one’s comfort zone for the sake of personal growth.

I did eventually phase out the mustache, and though I had one awkward day of self-consciousness, I had to admit, I liked it. And that’s all it took. My face wasn’t permanently naked, and I had expanded not only the range of visages I could achieve but my own mental self-conception, as well. As corny as it sounds, 86ing the ‘stache made me feel more dimensional in a way, like a more fully developed person.

So am I saying Eric Holder needs to lose the facial hair? Maybe, but not necessarily. Maybe I’m suggesting that some folks consider following the example of their boy Brad in the Quarter, to conquer that fear of running the razor below the lips but not above them, and to reach out to those who are different as a means to gaining a new perspective on life and, ultimately, on themselves.


A new comic is below!

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