National Fist Bump Day, 2009

Image by Flikr user echobase_2000


Nearly a year ago (June 3, 2008) in Minneapolis Denver, Illinois junior senator Barack Obama captured the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America. Obama celebrated the event by bumping knuckles with his wife, a brief physical gesture whose public discussion would quickly become overwhelming. Well, it’s time to celebrate that gesture again: next Wednesday, June 3, will be National Fist Bump Day. According to organizers of the event:

A group of like-minded people have gotten together to commemorate Obama’s grand gesture, but also to take the fist bump to a higher level, one above partisan politics and social divides. For one day we are calling for Americans, and perhaps even all global citizens, to put aside their differences — be they class, race, religion or values — and show their respect with a little bump.

 

The Obama fist bump became a major topic after the nomination when Fox News host E.D. Hill referenced the Obamas’ gesture, saying:

A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently. We’ll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says.

It’s unknown that anyone before Hill called it a terrorist fist jab (nor is it clear how law-abiding Americans would know what greeting gestures the world’s freedom fighters prefer). And after all that the Fox segment failed to make good on its promise to explain what the first bump “really says.” But there it was: the fist bump heardround the world.

The gesture is hardly new. Fist bumping (the right hands of two people making contact via knuckle touching) as a gesture of greeting or affection has been around since at least the 1970s. We don’t know whether the motion evolved from the handshake or the high five but since it’s an imaginative urban/adolescent gesture, I suspect it’s a bit of both.

Thomas Jefferson is said to be the first U.S. president to shake hands; before that, bowing was standard etiquette. While it’s somewhat unlikely Obama will usher in a new standard for polite salutation, the organizers of next Wednesday’s event aim to ensure that the fist bump stays with us… at least for the duration of the Obama administration.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate