28 (29) Days Of Blackness- Cultural Conversation #3: It’s Never Just A Handshake!

The article referenced is 6 years old, but with the posting of teachers making up their own handshakes to greet their students everyday, I thought it would be essential (and fun!) to figure out where non-basic handshakes came from. Once again, Blackness to the rescue! -JBHarris

Five on the Black Hand Side. Photos by LaMont Hamilton
Every time I see new handshakes in the culture I get excited! (See article for link!)

I love when I can go through social media and not want to throw my phone. In this age of fighting real-life Thanoses, it is the farthest thing from easy. However, there was this video I saw late last year of a Black male teacher who was going all these handshakes to his class! The thing that struck me was all the kids had their own handshake.


There had to be at least 20-25 kids in line! How awesome is this? When looking at this from a kid’s perspective, I could only imagine how cool it could be to share a handshake with your teacher! This would let me think the teacher was engaged, saw me and was accessible if I needed them. In short–it would prove connection.

What I didn’t know prior to this article, is the history of such handshakes! Peep this:

Historically, the dap is both a symbol among African American men that expresses unity, strength, defiance, or resistance and a complex language for communicating information. The dap and the black power handshake, which evolved from the dap, were important symbols of black consciousness, identity, and cultural unity throughout black America.

Smithsonian Center for Folkflife & Cultural Heritage

Bruh! Like DAP–yes, the DAP–is an acronym for ‘diginity and pride’ developed by Black Vietnam Vets as solidarity in looking after one another! And the military at the time deemed it as (and I’m quoting) ‘coded language of potential black insurrection.’ Really? Okay, Boomer.

I’m the child of Baby Boomer parents. Whenever I went somewhere with my Dad, he and his friends would never do a simple handshake when they greeted! Tuh! The greeting was always about a minute and the handshake was intricate–it was the coolest thing I had ever, ever seen.

And it was never the same handshake! I was fascinated! In retrospect, that same camaaderie I saw between my father and his friends, was the same I saw between this teacher and his student. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to see you, connect with you, and give you dignity and pride. From that single dap almost 50 years ago, we have the Wakanda Forever symbol! But please y’all, stop making Chadwick Boseman do that in public. The King has other things to do…

[image from Smithsonian Center for Folkflife & Cultural Heritage]

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