Why You Just Can’t Trust a Man With Weak Dap, Explained

Illustration for article titled Why You Just Can’t Trust a Man With Weak Dap, Explained
Screenshot: Key & Peele (YouTube)

What is dap?

My answer depends on who asks.

How so?

If a white person asks, I’d perhaps say something like “It’s a catchall to describe what often happens when black males greet each other with myriad intimate (and sometimes complex) variations of the standard handshake. Also, some members of the Latino community are familiar with and partake in this experience. And while dap is usually associated with men and boys, women and girls sometimes use it too.


If an American-born black person fixes his mouth to inquire about dap, I’m going to assume he’s either a bop or an opp, and my answer will be to squirt lemon juice in his eye.

You carry lemon juice with you?

Yes, because they don’t let niggas carry pepper spray.

I don’t think that’s true.

Are you carrying pepper spray?



Ummm ... OK. Well is there anything else I should know about dap?

There’s a quite entertaining article at the Smithsonian Institution about the origins of dap, which includes the revelation that dap is an acronym for “dignity and pride.” I’m somewhat skeptical of some of the claims here—particularly that dap originated in the ’60s—but it’s still an interesting read for trivia to impress Tinder dates with.

Does every black man partake in dap?

Nah. Some just give you the standard handshake each time. Which is fine! Dap sometimes can be exhausting and overwhelming. For instance, I have a herniated disk in my back right now and giving a nigga a full, chest-to-chest dap would make me yelp.

I see. So what exactly makes dap weak?

Again, while dap is a catchall to describe a number of ways to greet, the handshake is the foundation of it. If dap was a Thanksgiving feast, the handshake would be the turkey. And some niggas serve undercooked turkeys.


So a weak handshake?

Yes. Again, not everyone will always want to do each step in the dap sequence. Also, sometimes the rhythm and the timing might be off, which can be awkward, but awkward is fine. Awkward we can live with. But if I go to reach for your hand, and the hand you give me feels like a microwaved banana, I will be disgusted, I will be offended and perhaps I might even be a little hurt.


Anything else?

Flaccid banana hands are always followed by the second step—the hug/chest bump—where the chest isn’t bumped as much as it’s caressed. Sprinkled. It’s like hugging a fucking kite. Of course, exceptions are made if a person is dealing with some sort of injury or illness. But there’s a difference between “Let’s go easy on the dap today because I pulled a muscle in my chest” and “If my chest touches your chest I’m going to disintegrate into a puddle of Reese’s Cup wrappers.” The latter is also usually accompanied by a lack of eye contact.


Banana hands sounds messy. Anyway, what about this makes a man untrustworthy? 

If you can’t trust him to do the simplest thing—and not having banana hands is really simple!—than what can you trust him with? Also, weak dap has a way of communicating that a man maybe believes he’s too good to put any effort into it. Almost like he’s saying “Here, peasant, shake my hand if you must, but don’t linger. Now scurry away.” Scurry away on deez.


Makes sense.

Of course it does. You know, I was worried about you for a minute, though. Was about to pull out my lemon juice.


Stop saying that.



Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Black men sans facial hair are suspeck and questionable. Black people with bad hair decisions are suspeck and questionable. But black people with no facial hair, bad hair decisions and weak dap are not only not to be trusted, they are to be avoided like the plague.

Don’t trust them niggas over there!” -Uncle Ruckus