Skinhead is Not Racism...

In a time of race riots and the National Front at its peak, the black and white clothing and racially integrated bands that were 2Tone promoted racial unity in a torn country. As with Jamaican ska, the mood of the times was reflected in the lyrics...

Why do you want to kill me?
Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why...
We don't need no British Movement
Nor the Ku Klux Klan
Nor the National Front
It makes me an angry man
I just wanna live in peace
Why can't you be the same?
Why should I live in fear?
This fussin' and fightin's insane
With a Nazi salute and a steel cap boot
Nazi salute and a steel cap boot
You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes
You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes

~ from Why - The Special AKA

If a musical style such as Ska was originally a Jamaican product, why in the world would skinheads gather around it? (This is the part of the story that will hopefully shatter your media-fed view of the reality.) In an era when masses of Jamaicans were emigrating to Britain to find work and create new lives for themselves, they brought their culture and music along with them. In the years after W.W.II, England was suffering a labor shortage, caused both by the men who never returned from the war, and from the mass-destruction of cities and industry. Immigrants found themselves welcome to fill the lower ranks of manual labor, the working class. These Jamaican immigrants found themselves members of the working class in Britain, and a mixing of cultures was inevitably to follow.

Jamaican rudeboys and British skinheads both were young and working class. The skinhead style had evolved from the "Mod" subculture, as an answer to the fact that a declining economy prevented the youth from affording a cushy position in corporate employment.Both black and white found themselves relegated to working in factories, both shaved their heads and wore steel-toed boots as a matter of necessity. The original skinhead subculture was comprised of blacks and whites.

Like the original Jamaican rudeboys, skinheads dressed sharp when they went out, despite the fact that they had no apparent source to support their clothing addictions. Cultural differences aside, blacks and whites in 1960's Britain had one thing in common -- music. Reggae, rocksteady, traditional ska and soul music, and the styles they embodied, were what brought black and white youth together. While the political situation and slanted media ignorance turned skinheads into demons, the 2Tone movement remembered what skinheads originally loved, and focused strictly on the music and anti-racism by example. Skinheads who listened to ska music and lived the style were unlikely to be racist if they followed black music and racially integrated bands.

Does that come as a surprise?