Archive for the ‘Race relations’ Category

Gimmie some dap!

Posted: June 8, 2008 in Race relations

I’m constantly amazed at how things that seem so normal and understood to one group of people can be so foreign and weird to another.

But maybe I shouldn’t be.

I grew up in an all black neighborhood, went to a high school where there were just as many, if not more, minorities than any other race in the school and I graduated from one of the most prestigious HBCUs in the country. My interaction with the lighter hue was limited to band, sports and my part-time job.

That’s how it was.  And that’s how it was for many of my friends, both black and white.

To say that we as a country have not made progress in race relations would be unfair, because we most certainly have. But there still remains a fundamental disconnect of the two cultures that I’m afraid we may never overcome. There’s a difference between acceptance of different races and having an understanding of different cultures.

The white-dominated profession I work in reveals this to me on a daily basis. My swag, style of dress and way I talk is different and at sometimes confusing to my white colleagues. On the flip side, some of the jokes, slang and everyday actions my white counterparts engage in baffles the hell out of me. Is that wrong? Absolutely not. It’s just the simple fact that different races have different cultures.

Nowhere is the cultural disconnect more evident than in the mainstream media. There are things that make the national news that just leaves me scratching my head. A perfect example occurred this past week when Sen. Barack Obama historically wrapped up the “presumptive” democratic nomination.  As Obama when up on stage to speak to the audience gathered, he and his wife Michelle greeted each other, as the always do. Only this time, as their moment of affection ended, they exchanged a fist bump. For most black folk and others familiar with the gesture, it was a touching, humanzing moment, showing that the Obama’s are not too politically correct to avoid actions that may be confusing to the mainstream eye. But never did I think it would receive the reaction it did.

Across the country, from newspapers to political talk shows, people were trying to disect and analyze the “fist bump” What does it mean? Is it a new trend? Who does it? I watched and read in amazement that this was something new to some people. To me, it was old and for the most rarely used — among my crew at least. But nonetheless, the dap, pound, bump or whatever you want to call it has been a part of the black culture for years and to see it make the mainstream news simply because a Presidential candidate does it with his wife is just plain laughable.

But I can’t blame the media totally. I can’t blame them because working in the media allows me to see the lack of diversity in newsroom and in management. As a result, there are a lack of minority voices to “explain” certain things. I know because I’ve had to speak up on several occassions to “check” some of my misinformed colleagues.

To continue to make progress, people need to be able to embrace different cultures and be willing to educate others on your traditions. It’s important not to get upset because people may not be familiar or understand something that seems to simple to you. It’s our opportunity to help each other out for the common good. So when we do this, it can help minimize the disconnect.

Just make sure you dap ’em up afterwards.