I’m wary of anyone who dresses in skinhead fashions, regardless of whether they’re harmless. Recently, I was involved in a Facebook “discussion” in which there was a majority of people (mostly white, but also some white-passing) who were arguing that when people see a skinhead, they shouldn’t automatically assume that they’re a neo-Nazi or even racist. One of the biggest non-white supporters of this theory was a white-passing Indigenous person and a light-skinned black man. Both had grown up steeped in punk and rude boy culture and saw the relation between those (mostly) harmless subcultures and the skinhead subculture. But what they all failed to realise was that most people—particularly visibly non-white people like me—don’t have the luxury to give any skinhead the benefit of the doubt. Though the origins of the skinhead subculture have nothing to (directly*) do with racism, there were a bunch of literal neo-Nazis who ruined it for the rest, and the scaremongering by the mass media in the ‘60s and ‘70s didn’t help; since then, the average person is likely to think “Nazi” when you say the word “skinhead.” I can see the point of these defenders of non-racist skinheads in a time before Trump, but now, their undying defense of skinheads seems not only misguided but ignorant and privileged as fuck. I remember when I was a kid and American History X came out; I remember not even being able to sit through it all because it was so scary to me: the idea of literal Nazis in my lifetime seemed like the ultimate nightmare—and I’m not even Jewish but knew enough history to know that my Pakistani family and I would’ve been targeted by the Nazis as well. Fast-forward to modern day when literal Nazis are openly and unashamedly marching in cities in the United States (and becoming emboldened in other countries, including quaint lil' Canada) and I’m perpetually afraid of every white person I see because I can’t tell if they’re an ally or a white supremacist who is slowly becoming emboldened.
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