One of the most striking visuals for me from the Biden-Harris election speech spectacle was their knuckle-bump greeting; that moment when Biden’s fists nudged Harris’s fists in a display of teamwork, solidarity and – through my eyes – male ally-ship. This gesture, also known as ‘giving dap,’ was a potent moment of recognition that Biden believes in Harris, has deep respect for her talents, and views her as a partner in the quest to lead America toward a brighter future.
This visual symbolism is powerful, signifying that an entrenched member of the dominant majority, who understands his privilege, sees that new faces and voices are not just competent to lead the U.S. but may indeed be what the country needs to realize its promise of greatness for all.
The Dap. My 17 year old daughter taught me the term (we spent last year in Washington, DC, where ‘giving dap’ in its various permutations is a standard form of greeting among the public high school set). I’ve subsequently looked up the term (old school greeter that I’ve been) and learned that it stands for ‘dignity and pride’, and has its origins in the Vietnam war. African American soldiers used it as a greeting and a sort of shared language that they had one another’s backs. It communicated solidarity, community and unity.
I’ve been pondering male-allyship lately, and think about ‘giving dap’ as a metaphor for how males – especially white males – can convey a sense of respect for and belief in their female colleagues (and those from other underrepresented groups). They can give dap by:
· Honoring their achievements, verbally and publicly
· Recognizing their talents and leadership potential, ‘tapping’ them for challenging assignments, and encouraging them towards leadership
· Actively listening to, and then amplifying, their ideas
· Seeking and appropriately including their input on important decisions, and acknowledging their role in the process
· Having their back when challenging situations arise
· Accepting their feedback on how they can be more effective supporters
These are just a few examples. There are plenty of others.
Dap early and often. It’s even COVID friendly!
Yours in solidarity, community and unity,