There’s a lot to be angry about in this world. This week alone we’ve learned that Black children are three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled from public schools than white kids. In an effort to starve Planned Parenthood of Medicaid dollars, Texas Republicans are gutting the state’s Women’s Health Program. Andrew Breitbart is being stupid from his grave. And then there’s this odious study claiming that most women prefer naked-faced gentlemen to those with beards.
As a native of the City of Brotherly Love—or as my homie Baby Blak calls it, Beard City, Illadelphia—I rebuke this! Sure, more than 200 participants from New Zealand and Samoa compared photos of men before and after shaving and declared their hair-free faces younger-looking, less aggressive and generally more attractive. But how do we know these ladies weren’t drugged? Can we really prove that evil scientists from Gillette, Schick and Tend Skin didn’t hypnotize them?*
Brothers, I beg of you. Don’t heed this junk science. The fact is, reputable studies** suggest that Black men who keep their beards intact are friendlier, smarter, more talented, better with babies, more likely to recycle, and are perfectly willing to go to the store at 12:30 AM to get that lemon pie you asked for. A Black man with a full-bodied beard is telling the world*** that he is un-bought and un-bossed, that he will not be moved, that he learned from the razor bumps incident of 2005.
Now, I’m not suggesting that wearing a beard should trump a brother’s job opportunities or his ability to protect himself from religious profiling. And I don’t condone competitive beard growing, beard plaiting or the grizzled Cornel West. But if a man is biologically and financially able to grow and maintain a respectable beard, he owes it to himself and the public to rock it. Think about it: Frederick Douglass, Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye had beards. Idris Elba, Common, Meek Mill and an Ohio forest face named Stalley are wearing them. Put yourself on this timeline of fineness and you will not lose. Ever.
*There is no evidence that study participants were drugged, that evil scientists practiced hypnosis or grooming company collusion.
**By “studies” I mean “my personal observations.”
***By “the world,” I mean my mother, who insists that Black men without hair on their faces aren’t trustworthy.
Akiba Solomon is an NABJ-Award winning writer, freelance journalist, editor and essayist from West Philadelphia. She writes about the intersection between gender and race for Colorlines and is the co-editor of Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts .