Pride and Prejudice

This isn’t exactly what you think it is.  For a long time, I’ve tried desperately to understand the American Skinhead movement.  No, not the racist a**hats you think of when you think of skins (as so well portrayed in American History X).  A part of it, I guess, comes from having been a part of a couple different music scenes where I had a couple interesting discussions with varying degrees of skinhead.  For those of you who don’t know, the skinhead movement wasn’t always directly associated with racism.  It started in the ’60s in England as a response to the Mod movement (a bunch of rich kids who w0re Armani and flaunted daddy’s money).  The kids of the blue-collar workers responded by shaving their heads like their fathers did (to prevent the hair from catching in the machinery), wearing bluejeans (work pants) and steel-toed boots (protective wear).  I understand being upset by this, and I understand kind of rebelling against it.  Although racism hasn’t always been associated with the movement, from what I can tell, violence has.  You get a bunch of angry kids without a whole lot of direction or a whole lot of means together, sh*ts gonna go down.  It happens.  Who hasn’t been in at least one grade-school scrap in their day?  That being said, I really don’t understand this non-racist approach to skinheadism now.

As best I can tell (and, if you’re more knowledgeable on the subject, please correct me), there are two non-racist skin groups.  First, there’s the pride in heritage group.  Alright, so the argument here is be proud of where you’re from.  I get it, I guess…but I’ve always felt a better goal has been affect a positive change, and I guess sometimes (at least in my observations) self-identification as this or that gets in the way.  Also, occasionally, this pride in heritage ends up having a racial tinge to it that’s just never sat right with me.  I understand there’s a difference in being proud of who you are and where you’re from and thinking it’s superior to everyone else…but it’s just a little too close for my liking.  To quote Steve Byrne (a half-Korean, half-Irish comic), “I was in China for the Olympics.  People asked me where I was from, I said America.  I get back here to this country and people ask me where I’m from, I explain that I’m half-Korean, half-Irish, they respond by saying, ‘Oh, welcome.’  Welcome?  I LIVE HERE!  So that’s it.  Now I’m answering that question with, ‘I’m American.” (Sorry that had to be typed out…I couldn’t find a clip to link to).

The second group would be the worker’s movement.  I again kinda get the intention of this group, but again I feel like self-identifying with a specific group isn’t drawing positive attention to it to say, “Look, I’m different and we can co-exist.”  I feel like it’s more saying, “Look, I’m different.”  Division is stupid.  Addition, subtraction, and multiplication are still pretty cool, though.

I’d like it noted that SHARPs (Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice) and plenty of other groups exist within both of the subsets I’ve laid out above.  They can be pretty cool people.  I just don’t understand the need to advertise the differences.

When I was working for the nerd store (a home away from home, of sorts), I actually had a similar conversation (which hopefully will put this in a less politically incorrect light).  Surprisingly, there’s actually a fair amount of contention within nerd groups.  You’ve got video game nerds, comic nerds, Magic the Gathering nerds, role playing game nerds, etc. (seriously…this list goes on for a while).  Sometimes, in the store, people would start talking sh*t about one of the other groups.  I always interjected into those conversations a variation (sometimes polite and funny, others, to the point) on, “Seriously?  We’re all nerds here.  Stop it.”

I guess I just don’t understand the attempt to divide people into little boxes when there are pretty readily identifiable similarities – that we’re all human.

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One Response to “Pride and Prejudice”

  1. Nathaniel Lee Says:

    Relevant.

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