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A fist full of dap

Morning sports fans. If you have a few minutes later, I'll have some video for you. I was on CNN's American Morning this morning to participate in a friendly debate and defend my viewpoint that the media should do a better job exploring Barack Obama's biracial heritage when having discussions and round table analysis sessions on the historical significance of Obama's recent securing of a major party presidential nomination.

To call him black is technically accurate. It's what Obama calls himself. We look at him and we see a black man, by "normal" standards. But that addresses his appearance, not his whole heritage. And to strictly call him African American in my opinion disregards a real part of him. Back in the day, a biracial man couldn't admit publicly that he was biracial, 'cause it could mean risking his life. Now, such an admission is rote, run of the mill. So why leave it out of the discussion. It's not taking away from how Obama IDs himself. It's just making sure when the discussion turns in that direction, we discuss all parts of him. Some folks disagree with my position. And that's OK too. But we hashed this out in a blog post a couple weeks ago, so I won't continue my play-by-play. But I should have that video for you a little later.

In the mean time, I wanted to chat a bit about this challenge put to me by a buddy a couple days ago: Without bringing politics or partisanship or race into play, name something more subtle about Obama that might appeal to young people.

A took me a minute, but the answer I gave was the fist bump.

If you didn't see it, when Obama gave his speech in St. Paul after formally becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee last Tuesday night, he had a moment where he and his wife Michelle stood on stage alone. They embraced, they whispered in each other's ears. And eventually she stepped back, gave him the look - like when your dad or grandfather used to say "go get 'em, kid," just before you stepped up to the plate in your little league game - and held up her right fist. Almost subconsciously, as effortlessly as we walk and breathe, Obama raised his left fist. And they tapped 'em together. Then he gave her a little tap on the rump, and she walked off the stage.

Again, this is not a discussion of partisanship or who you plan to vote for. It's a response to a question about youth appeal. Think about the 2000 elections and the moment that Al and Tipper Gore met on stage and engaged in that Michael Jackson-and-Lisa-Marie-on-MTV-like-makeout session. And think about the uncomfortable pause that came immediately after that kiss. Now think back to the fist bump from last Tuesday night, and tell me you don't get the difference. One reminded us of walking in on our parents kissing and flirting in the kitchen when we got home from school, the sight that temporarily blinded us all at least once during our formative years. And the other was a simple effortless cool gesture - genuinely cool, it seems, because it didn't come off as rehearsed.

Even the pundits on TV and in the press weighed in on the fist bump, trying to figure out what its significance was and what it is called, and where it comes from, etc.

I found the conversations and "analysis" funny and refreshing, a brief look into a candidate's personality and a brief vacation from the speculation on how both sides plan to fix the economy and handle Iraq...and Iran.

But for those colleagues of mine who still don't get the bump, it's called dap, and is evolved from those "hip" handshakes Gen-Xers popularized across racial lines.

I wrote about this once on my old blog.  And here's what I had to say then:

"Dap is that coolest of handshakes. It's the urban greeting that says 'I could just grip your hand squeeze and shake twice, but you and I have an understanding, so I am going to throw some 'English' on this handshake and jazz it up a little, as a sign of our friendship and mutual respect... Yes, waaaaaay back in the day that handshake was a black thing (as my elders have explained it to me). There, I said it.

It was one of those ways that black men who felt all alone while trying to integrate themselves into predominantly white workplaces and social settings, and society in general, had to bond, to establish a camaraderie. In a crowd of white people in the 1950s, for example, two black men who spotted each other might have exchanged that handshake. But even then it was never so much about separating oneself from the group. Rather it was a way for two men of similar backgrounds and experiences to silently say "I don't necessarily know you, but I'll bet we have similar experiences. And therefore I understand you." It was a comforting gesture.

But then things changed in popular culture. Through the 1970s and into the '80s it became more acceptable to not just observe and/or admire another group's mannerisms. It became OK to engage in whatever interested you - activities and interests that had been deemed specifically "white" or "black" became fair game for whoever wanted to try 'em.

At that point race was no longer of major importance with that handshake. It became more about guys of all stripes silently saying "We're cool with one another. We're close friends. We're at least close enough that we share mutual respect."

Men-to-men, men-to-women, women-to-men, black-to-black, black-to-white, white-to-white, and so on and so forth. These days the fist bump, along with the other forms of dap, is a simple sign of cool. And even if he's not your canidate, you have to admit that Obama has cool points.

OK, now that we've sang Kumbaya, and had this peaceful exploration of hipness, let the freeding frenzy on Obama's and McCain's policy differences resume!

BTW, here is the next incarnation of dap.

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gildascott33

You people nee to stop trying to rip every little thing apart i'm talking about yor news reports s what if they bumed fist why don't you try and get a life and talk about the positive things Obama is doing. I had enough sometimes it makes you not wanting to read the junk that is printed.

gildascott33

You people nee to stop trying to rip every little thing apart i'm talking about yor news reports s what if they bumed fist why don't you try and get a life and talk about the positive things Obama is doing. I had enough sometimes it makes you not wanting to read the junk that is printed.

James B.

GildaScott33, get a sense of humor and re-read the post. There's nothing critical of Obama in this post. On the contrary, it's complimentary, from start to finish. If you read it again, carefully and still feel the same way then feel free to come back and post again to "we" people about how we're not covering Obama to your liking.

Mary

Are you giving the go ahead for us all to use the new version... cause there's quite a few people I'd like to slap dap!!
Nothing negative in the post about Obama that I read. He seems like a really cool guy. It's been an interesting journey and hopefully when he's elected President his ideas and leadership potential will turn things around again for us all.

Wavemancali

I watched a clip of the fist bump and a very amusing video commentary at this link

http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=107993

Radly Balko at theagitator.com turned me on to it and the particularly amusing part at 2:45 in.

Say It

crap, I'm still perfecting the high five. Occassionally I miss and get my forarm, which hurts a little. I'm never gonna get the new dap down.

The CEO

You know, if I see a black girl that I know and like, instead of a fist pound I tend to give her a hug and a kiss. I still like hugging and kissing women, regardless of race. Or about anything else. It's that Darwinian thing.

Yas

HAHAHA first and foremost that's only the second time i've seen that commercial and now twice its made me pee a lil with laughter. thats just wrong man.

second.... you're right. he appeals to the youth because he's not only not far from it but because he doesnt shy away from showing an expert ability to blend in with us. he uses our gestures our language our comfort levels. his laugh makes me laugh. get what i'm saying?

and if i ever meet you.. damn right i'll hold that fist up and wait for you to slap me because i'm always behind in the times lol

The Sarcasticynic

Wow, James! Now that you made me dope with the latest dap, I know how to greet my colleagues and win friends in places I visit. Thanks! I am sure to become a hit wherever I go.

SWF42

I loved that moment! I was pretty much enthralled with the whole speech, but those few seconds spoke volumes about the two of them as a couple. How nice it is to see two people, happy with each other, comfortable with each other, showing it in such an easy, unrehearsed, comfortable way. It was wonderful.

SWF42

I loved that moment! I was pretty much enthralled with the whole speech, but those few seconds spoke volumes about the two of them as a couple. How nice it is to see two people, happy with each other, comfortable with each other, showing it in such an easy, unrehearsed, comfortable way. It was wonderful.

mark

First of all let me make a prediction. Michelle Obama is going to be a huge liability to her husband's run for the White House.

Now concerning the fist bump. This was the Obama's way of telling Americans, "We aint the Clintons."

James B.

Mary, you are welcome to "dap" the hell out of anyone you like! Don't hold back now, ;-)

Wavemancali, that was funny as hell. Clearly he didn't get how the question came across. She got it, though!

Say It, the trick to dap or the pound, as some folks call it, is to not actually punch the other person. I'm kidding. I know you get that part. I hope you do. Actually, if we ever meet in person, let's just shake hands ;-)

Monty, I'm afraid to hug and/or kiss any woman who's not my wife, a relative, or a very close friend. I'm paranoid - don't wanna be accused of anything weird. I admire your comfort and liberation in this regard.

Yas, this was one of the best Bud commercials in a long time. And if I do slap you, you're gonna have to promise to tell the police I was just saying hello.

Sarc, like I told Say It, I recommend you not actually hit anyone. But if you do, since I turned you on to it, I'll bail you out. Or at least I'll take up a collection to bail you out.

SWF42, that's what I got out of their moment too. I had a difficult time explaining to a buddy that my admiration for that moment wasn't about politics. It was a personality thing.

Mark, strictly talking politics I think you could be right about Michele Obama's impact on her husband's campaign from here on out. And you're right about the second part too, except you could pretty much substitute "Clintons" with the name of any of the other Democratic candidates over the past 20 years, and your assessment would still work. I watched that gesture and thought "these people are not the Gores, or the Kerrys, for that matter!"

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