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The skinhead movement that originated in England can be traced back to two completely different cultural groups, the Mods and the Rude Boys. The Mods emerged in England during the early 1960s and consisted of young men with short haircuts, conservative clothes, and a passion for Soul music, euphoric drugs and motor scooters. This 1960 group of young white men disappeared, reemerging several years later with a rougher look that consisted of heavy work boots and shirts, jeans and short hair. These “Hard Mods” identified with the reggae in Jamaica , ska music, and soul. At the same time a group of British immigrants from the Caribbean, the Rude Boys, sprang up in England. This group was easily recognized by their clothing, slang, and outspoken disrespect for convention and authority. Within a short period of time these two groups merged, known as the Boot Boys, and later, as the skinheads.
Led by a radical British citizen, Stuart Donaldson, the skinheads in England quickly evolved from a subculture into a political group. The leader of the hard rock band Screwdriver, Donaldson used his music to promote a “right wing policy based on violence, survival, and rebellion”.
When the skinheads migrated from england they appeared in the United States in the early 1980s, they were first associated with the punk music scene, and later, with the right wing radical violence and racism espoused by many of the skinheads in England. Influenced by other white separatist movements who specialized in violence, such as the KKK, the National Socialist, and the Christian Identity, these American skinheads soon became one of the biggest participants in youth violence in the country. Skinheads in the US became interested in the white nationalism ideology.
The Racist Skinhead Movement
The racist skinhead movement continues to have breakouts throughout the United States. According to the Skinhead Racist Organization, the following is a list of areas that have experienced recent skinhead activity:
- Wasco County, OR – sect of European Skinheads
- Ojai, CA
- Orange County, CA
- Effort, PA
- San Bernardo, CA
Their distinctive clothing and rough look includes Nazi symbols from the Nazi party sewn on their clothes and tattooed on their skins. Most skinheads shave their heads, with a few opting for very short hair instead. Their clothing consists of jeans; combat boots or Doc Martens; thin suspenders; and bomber jackets. T-shirts bearing racist and hate messages such as the ones worn by Skinheads in Atlanta with the message, “Sickle Cell Anemia: The Great White Hope” are also common attire. The distinctive clothes of this group are meant to intimidate and send a clear message to others of the group’s racist feelings and propensity for violence.
The music the skinheads identify with espouses hate, violence, and racism. Although this group was originally identified with punk music, the tunes of choice soon switched to songs such as “Oi” sung by an English skinhead, which plainly articulates an anti-Semitic message and the “white power”, white race music of Donaldson. Like the punk music, the hate music the group now identifies with “expresses their aggressive, angry, stomping, fighting mad type of Nazi movement”.