The history of organised racism, homophobia and neo-nazism have created an indelible image of the skinhead as the willing footsoldier of far right political parties and of racial prejudice. The excellent account of the rise of white power music published by Searchlight, leaves few stones unturned in identifying skinheads with white-power and white-power music.
|Photograph: nazi demonstration in Sunderland City Square, 1992: nazi boneheads (not skinheads) in support of the British National Party (BNP)|
Skinhead dress and music belonged originally, however, to a wide section of black and white working class youth. Followers may have been prejudiced perhaps, but no more so than many others in British society at that time.
Music was multi-racial in inspiration. Skinheads and other black and white youth followed Ska, for example, and bands like The Specials were fiercely anti-racist. See the Specials web site ‘2 Tone Tour Hits the road‘ for a description of attempts by the fascist far right to recruit from tour audiences in 1979.
|So, some skinheads and other working class youth have never been racist – this has always been true. An interest in the skinhead look and a liking for a particular type of music has never been a vehicle for racism or fascism. In fact, real skinheads are anti-racist and anti-nazi!|
Real Skinheads are Anti-racist!
In support of real skinheads, this section is about links to materials created by skinheads who are anti-racist and anti-fascist. TWAFA wishes to emphasise their message – that skinheads and their friends have joined the struggle against violence, hate, intimidation and political thugery.
Why real skinheads are anti-racist
|"The original skinheads first appeared in England in the late 1960′s, growing out of the “rude-boy” and “hard-mod” movements. White, working-class kids who couldn’t afford to keep up with the increasingly expensive tastes of the mod movement adopted their own, hard mod, style, placing their emphasis on clean, practical clothing and hairstyles suitable for work and on taking pride in being working class." Taken from "Why Real Skin Heads are anti-racist." Skinheads.|
Though skinhead culture is often male and heterosexual – there are perhaps far fewer straight women involved – there’s also a strong gay following. But if some straight skinheads are racist others are homophobic, expressing hate for gay sexuality and dislike of gays sharing the clothes, style and brotherhood. Perhaps, sometimes, its about men who are afraid of being fancied by other men and realising that they might be gay.
But the gay skinhead following is also equally keen on the attractiveness of dress and the importance of skinhead culture. For a very clear expression of skinhead culture seen through the eyes of a group of gays go to Queer Skinhead Brotherhood.
A former nazi skinhead
"I grew up in a close-knit Catholic family in Fontana, California. My mother has described us as “middle America” – a working class, well disciplined household. My brothers and I were required to be present for dinner every night and back inside by curfew. We went to church on a regular basis." T. J. Leyden talking about early experiences before joining a neo-nazi group. Racism’s Roots
Tradskins and frequently asked questions..
"Welcome O’ me brothers and only fri ends… I see that most of the other Skin sites are gone or are abandoned and have mostly bad links on them. I’ll try to keep the links here up to date. If you have a TradSkin link you want added here, let me know. Oi!" Tradskins: FAQ page of skinheads.
A Tradskin view of skinheads: "The early Skins were not necessarily a racist bunch, as shown by the melding of the two cultures and the existence of numerous West Indian Skins. With the continued immigration from Pakistan things changed and a number of Skinheads, both black and white who felt that their jobs were being threatened turned against the Pakistani community while others continued to enjoy the fine curries and other Indian/Pakistani foods."
"SHARP began in New York City 1987… At that time there was a prevailing attitude in the press that all Skinheads were White-Power Nazis. This attitude was heavily endorsed by the burgeoning tabloid media. A small group of Skins and like minded Punks took it upon them selves to form a group to act as a media vehicle in order to spread a different message; that all Skinheads are not the same, that we have different ideals and different beliefs, both personal and political." (The original SHARP website SHARP is no longer live. Sad to say, we never made a copy of this page. Here’s what the Wikipedia says Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice
Confessions of a synagogue skinhead
" In 1978, when I was a teenager, I didn’t know about all this fuss and fury. We were the only Jewish family where I was attending High School in rural Ontario. When I could start buying the clothes that I liked I gravitated toward the ‘Blue Brother’ look when I dressed up and the boots, black vest and fedora look for every day. I loathed disco music and so I listened to Reggae, Ska and rock. It wasn’t until I moved to Germany that I learned that there was an entire community based around the same style that I had developed." Confessions of a synagogue skinhead (Note: this is an Angelfire web site – they overdo the popup windows!)