Hey folks! I was curious about the difference between skinheads and Nazis -- where I'm from (the midwest United States) a lot of people are of the impression that they're the same thing, and your latest post makes a note of that being incorrect. Could you please explain the difference so I can be better informed?
It’s a long story, but we’ll try to give you the short version:
(above: skinheads in the UK, circa 1969)
Skinhead comes from the merger of two youth subcultures - the mods and the rude boys. This happened when young Jamaican immigrants to the UK in the 1960s began hanging around with working-class English kids. Back in the day, no one would blink an eye at a black skinhead
This began to change in the 1970s, when racist extremists in the UK began to recruit disaffected working-class youth as cannon fodder for their campaigns. Noting that skinheads had reputations as street fighters, they began to distort & corrupt the subculture, helped along by a hysterical mass media.
By the time the skinhead subculture took root in the U.S., it was unclear which version of skinhead - the original multiracial version or the nazi imposters - would hold sway. But sensationalist media coverage, stuffy academics, and of course the police made sure that the public equated “skinhead” with “racists,” unwittingly help U.S. racist groups with their recruitment by handing the subculture over to them on a silver fucking platter.
(above: The Baldies - the original anti-racist skinhead crew).
Happily, real skinheads in the U.S. were not having it. Hailing from Minneapolis, The Baldies were the first organized crew of anti-racist skinheads and they fought & won a battle to drive a white supremacist bonehead gang off the streets.
(above: members of The Syndicate at a 1989 Syndicate inter-city conference in Minneapolis)
A couple of years later they would co-found The Syndicate - an intercity network of anti-racist skins, punks, and other youth in the MidWest that laid the foundations for The Anti-Racist Action Network a few years later.
(above: patches commissioned by founding members of the original SHARP chapter)
Around this time, a group of anti-racist skins in NYC formed the world’s first SHARP chapter, which inspired other chapters all over the world.
(above: image from flyer for the first RASH intercity gathering)
In 1993, Red and Anarchist Skinheads began also in NYC but with an (obviously) more explicit political mandate.
So basically Anon, skinhead began as a multiracial youth subculture that nazi scum have been attempting to take over for years. But despite help from the authorities and the media, the majority of skinheads have never been racist scum! Because of this, real skinheads strongly object to any reference to bigoted filth as “skinheads.” The preferred and more-accurate term for such swine is “bonehead.”
You’ll find a more academic look at this whole deal here.
(above: SHARP skins in Paris)