DescriptionSkinheads in the news. (Please see our other apps on various religions,cultures and sexual orientations. Education leads to tolerance. Peace.) A skinhead is a member of a subculture that originated among working class youths in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaican) rude boys and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. Originally, the skinhead subculture was primarily based on those elements, not politics or race. Since then, however, attitudes toward race and politics have become factors by which some skinheads align themselves. The political spectrum within the skinhead scene ranges from the far right to the far left, although many skinheads are apolitical.
In the late 1960s, some skinheads in the United Kingdom (including black skinheads) had engaged in violence against South Asian immigrants (an act known as Paki bashing in common slang). There had, however, also been anti-racist and leftist skinheads since the beginning of the subculture, especially in Scotland and northern England.
These early skinheads were not necessarily part of any political movement, but by the early 1970s, some skinheads aligned themselves with the white nationalist National Front. As the 1970s progressed, racially-motivated skinhead violence in the United Kingdom became more political, and far right groups such as the National Front and the British Movement saw a rise in white power skinheads among their ranks. By the late 1970s, the mass media, and subsequently the general public, had largely come to view the skinhead subculture as one that promotes racism and neo-Nazism. The white power and neo-Nazi skinhead subculture eventually spread to North America, Europe and other areas of the world. The mainstream media started using the term skinhead in reports of racist violence (regardless of whether the perpetrator was actually a skinhead); this has played a large role in skewing public perceptions about the subculture. Three notable groups that formed in the 1980s and became associated with white power skinheads are White Aryan Resistance, Blood and Honour and Hammerskins.
Also during the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, many skinheads and suedeheads in the United Kingdom rejected both the far left and far right. This anti-extremist attitude was musically typified by Oi! bands such as Cockney Rejects, The 4-Skins, Toy Dolls, and The Business. Two notable groups of skinheads who spoke out against neo-Nazism and political extremism—and in support of traditional skinhead culture—were the Glasgow Spy Kids in Scotland (who coined the phrase Spirit of 69), and the publishers of the Hard As Nails zine in England.
In the United States, anti-racist skinheads countered the neo-Nazi stereotype by forming organisations such as The Minneapolis Baldies, which started in 1986; Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP), which was founded in New York City in 1987 and then spread to other countries; and Anti-Racist Action (ARA), which was formed in the late 1980s by members of the Minneapolis Baldies and other activists.
On the far left of the skinhead subculture, redskins and anarchist skinheads take a militant anti-fascist and pro-working class stance. In the United Kingdom, two groups with significant numbers of leftist skinhead members were Red Action, which started in 1981, and Anti-Fascist Action, which started in 1985. Internationally, the most notable left-wing skinhead organisation is Red and Anarchist Skinheads, which formed in the New York City area in 1993 and then spread to other countries.
In the United States, conservatism has been common in the skinhead scene, with many non-racist skinheads expressing right-wing and anti-communist views, glorifying American military actions and voicing opposition to modern liberalism.