What does it mean to be a Skinhead? - How a movement for unity became a buzzword for division

January 24, 2017

Skinheads. Be honest your first thought was probably about a group that has its culture steeped in racism. Shaved heads, Dr. Martens boots, high-ankle straight-leg jeans & braces, the ominous uniform of working class fascists. However it is important to understand that this subculture is far more varied than the instances we may commonly see in the media. Its important to fully understand what it was to be a Skinhead in 60s Britain and why its values are just as important in 2017. 

 

Growing up as a working class youth I know how it feels to be alienated from certain social circles and why it becomes so vital to form bonds with like minded individuals. Nobody wants to feel like they're alone, this was no different for the Skinheads. A group enjoying the fashion and music of black origin, especially that of Jamaican rude boys who themselves came from the poorer sections of Kingston. Youths from two different worlds were united in their discontent for their place in society. I would like to believe that we all aim to experience life to its fullest and to share that with those around us feeling the same. 

 

  

(**What's Up TV presenter Aaron Roach Bridgeman and some of the current connoisseurs of the SHARP - Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice - movement).  

It would be remiss of me to talk about the Skinhead culture without touching upon the dark side that grabs a lot more headlines. I can honestly say that I am no expert when it comes to politics but I do feel strongly about certain issues that will no doubt bleed into certain political areas. In the 80s as political affiliations grew, a split in Skinheads culture saw both far right and far left movements. The media found plenty of material in the hysteria of extreme nationalism, those who were more enlightened failed to have their voice heard. This reached a head in the 90s with the Neo-Nazi groups in Europe adopting the Skinhead look. The meaning of being a Skinhead was hijacked and the identity of a movement had been corrupted by a vocal minority. 

 

"Don't judge a book by its cover" may be a clichéd term but it perfectly sums up my feelings on Skinhead culture. It pleases me to know that there still are groups of people who get together and enjoy the ska, reggae and rock-steady music that has worked to unite generations of disenfranchised youths for decades. No matter what stigma is attached to a certain look or way of life it is important to stand for what you feel represents you. In this day and age we have so much access to worlds we may have never caught a glimpse of in the past. This sees our cultures continually evolving, no longer do we feel the need to wear a certain uniform to signify who we are. Glastonbury 2016 for example saw Skepta, Adele & Coldplay playing to the same crowds despite their varied musical identities. In the most vivid fashion music highlights the melting pot of the world we live in and going forward I would encourage you to give anything a chance. 

**For further insight into the Skinhead culture check out this weeks What's Up TV for our piece on the subject: Saturday 28th January, 11:30am on Sky 1. 

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