Black Hand Gestures We Make And The Surprising History Behind Them

raised clenched fist
The PushBlack Team
November 20, 2022

Do you know the real meaning behind Black hand and head gestures? Ever stopped to appreciate the beauty in our ability to communicate without words? Here are three gestures that have evolved to represent Black-conscious communication.

#1 The Dap: 

With racial tension at an all-time high on home soil, Black soldiers used the dap to symbolize unity while in Vietnam in the 1960s. The gesture acknowledged a pact amongst Black soldiers to look out for one another. 

This commitment to solidarity was necessary as they continued to fight racism within ranks and at home.

#2 The Fist: 

In the 1960s, the Black Power Movement used the clenched fist as a symbol of civil rights. Specifically, it was a sign of resistance publicly circulated by the Black Panther Party. 

It’s since been used across the globe, from the 1968 Olympics to the 2016 campaign trail.

#3 The Nod

Whether in a room full of white people or isolated on a street corner, Black people will often acknowledge each other’s presence with a head nod. Like the dap, it’s a statement of ethnic solidarity. 

Though its particular origins are unknown, it’s traveled generations and remains a key form of communication today. 

And that’s just three! Hopefully, the rich legacy behind Black communication styles will continue to inspire nonverbal cues and community ties for years to come.

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