30th May2005

Can’t We Just Shake Hands, Like White People?

by Will

So, I’ve got a confession. I’m sort of ashamed to mention this, but here it goes:

I get nervous whenever I meet a Black guy.

Why?

Because I never quite know how he’s gonna try to shake my hand.

You see, there’s this underlying assumption that Black people don’t dole out simple handshakes. No, it’s assumed that we all use some kind of urban formula to concoct a secret means of greeting one another. And these things change by the week. It’s like “body slang”. Nobody wants to reveal that they don’t know the newest greeting.

Will he come at me with the “pound-on-pound dap”? Will he give me the endearing “Bro-man handshake-hug combo”? Or will we settle on the convoluted “–handshake-elbow-chesting”? So many choices, and you only have a few seconds to figure out the proper course of action.

The minute someone says, “Will, I’d like you to meet my boy, DeVauhwn,” I immediately start thinking, “Oh crap! Ok, Will…remember what they taught you in training. Just remember your training!”

Then you’ve gotta notice the body language. “OK, he’s making a fist…I think we’re going for dap. Now, are we going for a stacking-fist pound, or are we just gonna punch fists?”

Now, I wonder if other Black guys think about this, or is this something I picked up somewhere. I KNOW it’s something that White guys think about. Why? Because I haven’t had an honest-to-God simple handshake from a White guy under the age of 25 in the past 5 yrs! They always assume I’m gonna go in for some kind of Zord-summoning sign language when I really just want a firm grip. After all, isn’t that what we all want?