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Amanda Seales breaks down the fascinating history behind the DAP handshake

We’ve all seen people do it. Anywhere from basketball players on television to kids meeting up at the skating rink. Even former president Barack Obama when greeting a mixed group of men gave “DAP” to the Black men in the group, yet switched to a firm handshake when greeting the other men.

It was almost like watching the president code switch, but with body language, in a move that many Black Americans recognize as a gesture of acceptance and comradery. But did you know that there’s an actual history behind the DAP that has nothing to do with looking cool? Social justice educator and actress, Amanda Seales, recently re-shared a clip from “The Real” where she was diving into the history of the handshake.

Seales, who has a master’s degree in African American Studies from Columbia University, was also admittedly surprised when she learned there was a deeper meaning to the gesture.

On the show Seales explains that the DAP originated in the 60s during the Vietnam War between Black soldiers. “Young African Americans were being sent into combat and the DAP was about unity and survival. There were cases of Black soldiers reportedly being shot by white soldiers during combat and so it was a physical act of solidarity,” Seales reads. “It was used to convey their commitment to looking after one another.”

The actress says that DAP is an acronym for dignity and pride, but was once banned in the military because people thought it was a secret black power sign. It wasn’t. The handshake was so helpful in making Black soldiers feel safe, DAP Therapy was created to help with PTSD symptoms.

The entire history of the DAP gives it so much more meaning. It’s quite fascinating how things from the past continue to evolve and grow with society. While the meaning of the DAP may have been lost, the gesture itself is still alive and well.

Source: Upworthy
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