Skinheads, Swastika, Reggae, Afrika

 

Imitation isn’t always flattery…

Skinheads:

Who Stole the Soul?

Skinhead was an extension of the sixties mod subculture.

1950s-1960s:  The Mods- European Clothes & Black Music

Mods were working-class kids who wanted to dress better than their parents, peers and bosses. Their style was influenced by French, Italian and Ivy League fashion and they listened to (and celebrated) music by black artists, such as blues, soul and R&B. They were also introduced to ska (sometimes called bluebeat) and early reggae by Jamaican immigrants (who had their own subculture, the Rudeboys).

1970s:  From Jamaican Rudeboy to English Skinhead

The style skinheads wear today was actually stolen from Jamaican and white Brits.  It was all about dancing, looking cool, learning from each other.  These weren’t the same skinheads you know today.

Towards the end of the sixties, Mod had become mainstream, commercialised and very flowery. Psychedelic music was becoming popular and some mods became hippies. The tougher, more masculine ‘hard mods’ hated it and wanted to distance themselves from all that. So they started to cut their hair in a very short college-boy style, often with a shaved in side parting (also popular with Rudeboys).

The overall look was stripped down, mixing Ivy League style button-down shirts, dockworker boots and Rudeboy style short trousers and skinny braces (that’s suspenders to you Yanks). People called them various names, such as ‘cropheads’, ‘bovver boys’ or ‘peanuts’, but  on the 3rd of September 1969 a Daily Mirror article gave them the name Skinhead.

20centmax.tumblr.com

And so a new, multicultural subculture – based around working-class pride, toughness, looking smart and dancing to ska and reggae music – was created.

 

The whole scene was influenced by black culture

– the haircut, the length of our trousers, the walk, some of the talk and, of course, the music, much of it copied from Rude Boy style. Black and white generally got on, we intermingled and if there was trouble it was usually about a woman.
– Nigel Mann, original Skinhead  [quote taken from Paolo Hewitt’s book, The Soul Stylists] 

 

1980s:  This Is England

Along with this, white nationalist and supremacist movements began to arise in Britain’s marginalized underclass.  Under-educated, unskilled and unemployable, these rebels with neither cause nor clue were so culturally and intellectually bankrupt that they didn’t even have an identity.  They resorted to stealing a white imitation of black culture and claiming it as their own, either unaware of the irony, or too desperate to care:

Unfortunately, the skinhead’s hard, macho image started to attract the National Front and the British Movement. Racists put on braces and big boots and called themselves skinheads without knowing the roots of their adopted subculture. Kids were shouting ‘sieg heil!’ and saluting diagonally, unaware of the irony. There was less emphasis on style – racist skinheads tended to wear t-shirts displaying British Movement and National Front logos instead of smart button downs – and they distanced themselves from the subculture’s black influences by listening to white power rock bands.

News of attacks on Asians, black people and other minorities spread and soon the media blamed skinheads, whether they were actually responsible or not.

 

White supremacists infected the skinhead scene like a virus- hijacked a vitality and identity that they could never come up with themselves.

Let’s take a second to think about how the white skinheads felt.  Their look and lifestyle, which was an expression of their admiration of black fashion and music, and multiculturalism, had come to symbolize the opposite.  Their identity was stolen from them.  They couldn’t even be themselves anymore, unless they wanted to be mistaken for violent racists.

It’s been stolen.

For me it felt great. You’re amongst your own kind with the music and the clothes. I loved it. So when I read these things about fascism, it’s been stolen, they’ve stolen something that meant so much to me.’
James Ferguson , original Skinhead  [quote taken from Paolo Hewitt’s book, The Soul Stylists]

The Swastika

Those Who Hate You Imitate You

angolan swastika
Angolan Swastika

 

That the swastika is an ancient African symbol has been known to historians for centuries:

[They] were a dark-skinned people with short hair and prominent lips; and that they are referred to by some scholars as Cushites (Ethiopians), and as Hamites by others.

Mr. Wells alludes to this early civilization in his Outline of History, and dates its beginnings as far back as 15,000 years B.C.

“This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture,” says Mr. Wells, “which Elliot Smith called the Heliolithic (sun-stone) culture, included many or all of the following odd practices:…(9) the use of the symbol known as the Swastika for good luck. …

Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of constellation all over this great Mediterranean / Indian Ocean-Pacific area. Where one occurs, most of the others occur. They link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this constellation of practices does not crop up in the primitive home of Nordic or Mongolian peoples, nor does it extend southward much beyond equatorial Africa. …

The use of the swastika as an African symbol is an established tradition that still flourishes today amongst the Akan or Ashanti people of western Africa:

The Akan occupy a large part of West Africa including parts of Ghana and the Ivory Coast and include many sub-ethnic groups such as the Baule and the Asante (Ashanti).  The Akan were producing swastikas to weigh gold dust which was their currency, thus the name ‘gold weights’.  When used on the gold weight, the swastika was a symbol of currency, expressing power, money, wealth and integrity.  The idea and the implementation of gold-based currency came from the Akan people of modern-day Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. (Oliver 2014)

 ashanti

The swastika is also one of the Akan people’s famous Adinkra symbols.  Look at number 12 below:

adinkra symbol
According to one source, the swastika is referred to by the Akan as a monkey’s foot. Another source says it is called Kode Emower Ewa (‘talons of the eagle’), represents devotion and service and is shaved on the back of the heads of the Queen Mother’s servants.  Still another source names it Nkotimsefuopua, claiming similarly that certain attendants on the Queen Mother who dressed their hair in this fashion.
The Asante also weave the swastika into their cloth. 
See the top left corner below: 

 

adinkra cloth
Other African uses of the swastika include scarification, architecture and other decorative arts.
Scarification, Congo
Lalibela Rock Church, Ethiopia

Skirt, Kuba people, Congo

Comb, Akan people, Ghana

Many more swastikas from throughout Africa can be viewed on Pinterest:  suunjata – swastika

Of course, though, the swastika is most famous as the symbol of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National-Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazis.  This is where its association with white power and white nationalism comes from.  But where did the Germans get it from?

In the century leading up to the Nazi era, Europe and Germany in particular gained a profound interest in Eastern religion, philosophy, mysticism and occultism.  The most famous leader of the most famous movement- Theosophy- was Helena Blavatsky.  Her writings had a profound influence on the Ariosophy- love of Aryans- that later arose in Germany and Austria, NSDAP founder Adolf Hitler’s place of migration and birthplace, respectively.  This is undoubtedly how he became aware of the symbol.  As we read above, though, many of the eastern cultures that Theosophy and, in turn, Ariosophy were based on, especially the more ancient ones, were actually dark-skinned, and often Africoid, people.  There is evil irony in the fact that their symbol was used against them in hatred.

There is another nearer possible connection to Nazi Germany and the swastika:   Germany’s colonial misadventures in Deutsch-Südwestafrika (German Southwest Africa, a/k/a Namibia) from 1884-1915.  Namibia borders Angola, in which very ancient swastikas have been observed.  Were they exposed to it there?  One can only speculate.

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Today’s Neo-Nazi Skinhead

Human Viruses

 

Neo-Nazi skinheads are, in essence, using black fashion and an African symbol to express white power and racism.  On top of that, their musical style- neo-Nazi punk- is a genre based on- you guessed it- the ska and punk of Jamaican Afro-Brits.

Despite despising them- or maybe because of it, I’m starting to realize- they stole everything from them:  their style, their symbols, their very identity.

Without African (diaspora) fashion, music and symbology, white supremacists wouldn’t have an identity.  Someone that utterly impoverished- morally, intellectually, spiritually- is normally worthy of sympathy.

white power
Indeed…

Conclusion:  Going Viral

As can be seen with the original skinheads- a blend of black and white British culture- trading and borrowing, when credit is given where credit is due, is always welcomed and encouraged.  The borrower is enriched, and the donor is embraced.  (We have to remember that the original skinheads didn’t become Neo-Nazi skinheads- they were hijacked and discarded, too.)  That is cultural appreciation.  That is symbiotic.

image
Prince Buster & A Skinhead Fan (20CentMax.tumblr)

What we see from modern skinheads, though, is cultural appropriation, and that- feeding off the host and destroying it- is viral.

How do the two differ?  Cultural appropriators

  • claim the cultural items as their own- theft
  • overlook the plight of the culture they borrow from- hypocrisy
  • benefit from the borrowed culture in ways its creators can’t- privilege

Here are some examples:

The girl on the left is “edgy” or “eclectic”.  The girl on the right, whose culture originated the style, is “ghetto” or “thuggish”:

The woman left and center (Saartjie Baartman) got paraded in human zoos in Europes.  The woman on the right who used a wire frame in her dress to imitate her anatomy was a ‘lady’:

bustle

This is where skinheads today, the Nazis, Ariosophists and Theosophists of the past, and indeed most racists went awry:  they crossed the fine line between appreciation and appropriation.  They turned something so beautiful and unitary became so ugly and divisive.

They stole the soul.

Let’s take it back.


 

Sources

All quoted text in “Skinheads” section from Max.  “All You Skinheads Get Up On Your Feet!”.  20th Century Max.  1 October 2015.  http://20centmax.tumblr.com/post/130292077655/all-you-skinheads-get-up-on-your-feet

Jackson, John G. “Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization” (1939); Retrieved from http://2017blackart.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/ethiopia-and-the-origin-of-civilization-by-john-g-jackson/

Oliver, Daniel.  “Afrikan Swastikas.”  Knowledge of Self. 11 December 2014.   https://selfuni.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/afrikan-swastika/

Angolan Swastika:  Drawing by Redinha, 1948.  Found in Coimbra Fernando. “The astronomical origins of the swastika motif”.  Published in 2011: Proceedings of the International Colloquium – The intellectual and  spiritual expressions of non-literate peoples. Atelier, Capo di Ponte: 78-90. https://www.academia.edu/2951519/The_astronomical_origins_of_the_swastika_motif

 

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How Do We Know Rachel Dolezal Is “White”?

Where’s the line between a “black” person who can pass for “white”, and a “white” person who can pass for “black”?

Before the One-Drop Rule

I'm "white"...
I’m “white”…

America used to classify its ethnic African minorities into two categories.

Those with no known non-African ancestry were known as “Black”, “Negro” (apparently for Spanish speakers) and “Colored” because everyone else, apparently, was clear.

Anyone with African and any other ancestry, especially west Asian (“European”), were known as Mulattoes.

West Asians (also known as “Europeans”) with no visible or known African ancestry, were called “White” even though white is a color, so technically they were “colored”, too.  (If you are confused about the use of the terms ‘west Asia’ and ‘West Asian’, click here.)

At some point, the ‘Mulatto’ category was abolished, and all people with any African ancestry were lumped into the first category.  Thus formed the “One-Drop Rule”:  if you had any known or visible African ancestry, you were Black/Negro/Colored.

But what about people with so little African ancestry, or specifically so few African genes expressed in their phenotype, that they appeared West Asian or “white”?

They ‘passed’ for “white”.  They hid their African heritage, abandoned the non-passable members of their family (often at their suggestion) and blended into the dominant west Asian society.  They did this to qualify themselves for affirmative action, also known as “white” privilege: 100% quotas at colleges and universities, 100% quotas on in the workforce, 100% quotas in the military, access to credit and housing, and basic human rights.

...no wait:  I'm "black"...
…no wait: I’m “black”…

You never know who could be passing for “white”.  With as much as 25% African ancestry, a person can have blonde hair and blue eyes.  Even without those, a person with African could have little enough of it showing to not be swarthier, as Benjamin Franklin, put it, than the swarthier races of west Asia.  (Keep in mind, as the first and frequent settlers in West Asia, Africans have contributed considerably to their genes and phenotype.)

It doesn't take much to pass for "white" when Italians can, too.
It doesn’t take much to pass for “white” when Italians can, too.

More importantly, a person could be passing and not know it.  If your father passed with 25% African ancestry, then you are a full 1/8th (12.5%) African, but your father obviously wouldn’t have told you.  Keep in mind that 12.5% is as much west Asian ancestry as the average African-American has, after centuries of pure Africans mixing with multi-ethnic and/or west Asians.

In fact, an estimated 28 million, representing ~10%, of west Asian Americans have African ancestry.  Those “white” people are “black” (according to the One-Drop Rule) and don’t even know it!  There are almost as many “whites” with “black” blood than there are “blacks”!

What About Rachel?

dolezal

Is she in that 28 million?

She wouldn’t even know it if she was, like the white supremacist who found out he was 14% African (making him, therefore, “black”). So how do we know she’s not?  How do we know that, according to the one-drop rule she shouldn’t be called “black” or African-American (Spanish was dropped as an official language at some point, so “Negro” is out of fashion)?

Only a genetic test could prove she has no African blood, and if she does, she’s “black”.  This isn’t a stretch.  We regularly celebrate and/or out supposedly “black” people who look completely white, because they have a mixed ancestor even generations ago.

Them Genes

jeans

Genes affect more than just phenotype.  That’s why Don Cheadle, with dark brown skin, tightly-curled hair, and broad facial features, can still be 19% west Asian:  his west Asian genes don’t express themselves in his phenotype.

His west Asian blood doesn't show on his face
His west Asian blood doesn’t show on his face

There are genes for everything:  immunity, hormones, metabolism and a lot of things we don’t think about.  Genes also affect behavior and personality.  Genes are even passed through breast milk- and how many west Asian Americans have been suckled by African women throughout history?  What’s more, memory is passed through genes.

So it’s perfectly normal, or at least possible, for a person to have genes affecting those areas coming from an ancestor that they don’t physically resemble.

This explains “white” people who identify with a distant African ancestor, and why so many African-looking people have difficulty opposing “white” supremacy:  it’s in their blood.

Gray Area

download

“Race is a social construct.”

That really is true.

Where I live in Arabia, “blackness” is defined by the opposite of the one-drop rule:  if your skin is not very dark, or if you have loosely-curled hair, or a thin nose or lips- signs of possible non-African ancestry, you’re NOT “black.”

My dark-skinned African-American friend, who inherited wavy hair from his Hispanic mother, was told by his Afro-Arab wife that he’s “white”!  “White” to them means one-drop of non-African blood!

Further, Arabs identify a person by his or her father.  No matter who the mother is, the child is an Arab if the father is Arab.  There are Indonesians who are 100% Indonesian in language and appearance, but are considered Arabs because there is an unbroken paternal line to Yemen.

By that logic, by having a “white” forefather, many African-Americans are actually “white”!

For Jews, it’s the complete opposite:  the child of a Jewish mother is Jewish, no matter who the father is.

By that logic, my dark-skinned African-American friend is “white” because of his West Asian maternal grandmother.  And the dark-skinned son of my friend, who has a west Asian mother and ethnic African father, is also “white”.

And I have one friend who is “white” to the Arabs because his skin is light brown, “black” to Americans because his father is ethnically African, and Jewish to the Jews because he has a Jewish mother.  He should go on tour!

A Black White Jew
A Black White Jew

The American concept of race, and every concept of race, and the concept of race itself, are all stupid.  Black?  White?  So what’s a “mixed” person, then-  Grey?  What should I call my friend’s wife who has a Chinese grandfather- Dark Yellow?  We’re just making it up as we go along- and mostly getting it wrong…

Don’t Ask Rachel

I’m not defending or attacking Rachel Dolezal.  Her family and identity issues are hers and her family’s:  not ours.

I just want to know why African-Americans get so happy when they find out a “white” person is really black, but offended when a “white” person says they are “black”.

She was denied a place on the Rose Parade for being "black."  60 years later, we celebrate her getting justice.
She was denied a place on the Rose Parade for being “black.” 60 years later, we celebrate her getting justice.

I wanna know how a west Asian woman pretending to be African can provide more leadership than ethnic Africans who claim to be African, and are supposedly proud of it.

That’s what matters- not what she did, but what you have.

Or haven’t…

Ta-Nehisi Coates: African-Americans Experience Racism NOW, not Its “After-Effects”

Obama-era progressives view white supremacy as something awful that happened in the past whose historical vestiges still afflict black people today. They believe we need policies–though not race-specific policies–which address the affliction. I view white supremacy as one of the central organizing forces in American life whose vestiges and practices afflicted black people in the past, continue to afflict black people today, and will likely afflict black people until this country passes into the dust.

There is no evidence that black people are less responsible, less moral, or less upstanding in their dealings with America nor with themselves. But there is overwhelming evidence that America is irresponsible, immoral, and unconscionable in its dealings with black people and with itself. Urging African-Americans to become superhuman is great advice if you are concerned with creating extraordinary individuals. It is terrible advice if you are concerned with creating an equitable society. The black freedom struggle is not about raising a race of hyper-moral super-humans. It is about all people garnering the right to live like the normal humans they are.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/03/black-pathology-and-the-closing-of-the-progressive-mind/284523/