The dap, the fist bump, the black power handshake. It goes by many names and carries many meanings. Photographer LaMont Hamilton is devoting his research fellowship with us to unearthing stories about the dap for his project Five on the Black Hand Side.
Read about the dap’s history and evolution on Talk Story: http://bit.ly/1odnKKM.
they called the “terrorist fist jab” on fox
The dap originated during the late 1960s among black G.I.s stationed in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. At a time when the Black Power movement was burgeoning, racial unrest was prominent in American cities, and draft reforms sent tens of thousands of young African Americans into combat, the dap became an important symbol of unity and survival in a racially turbulent atmosphere. Scholars on the Vietnam War and black Vietnam vets alike note that the dap derived from a pact black soldiers took in order to convey their commitment to looking after one another. Several unfortunate cases of black soldiers reportedly being shot by white soldiers during combat served as the impetus behind this physical act of solidarity.
Such events, combined with the racism and segregation faced by black G.I.s, created a pressing need for an act and symbol of unity. The dap, an acronym for “dignity and pride” whose movements translate to “I’m not above you, you’re not above me, we’re side by side, we’re together,” provided just this symbol of solidarity and served as a substitute for the Black Power salute prohibited by the military.
White soldiers and commanding officers deemed the handshake a threat under the misconception that the dap was a coded language of potential black insurrection. In fact the dap was also a coded form of communication between soldiers that conveyed necessary information for survival, such as what to expect at the battlefront or what had transpired during an operation. The dap was banned at all levels of the military, and thus many black soldiers were court-martialed, jailed, and even dishonorably discharged as a punishment for dapping. Military repression of the dap further cemented a desire for a symbol of solidarity and protection among black men.