Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice
Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) are anti-racist skinheads who oppose neo-fascists and other political racists, particularly if those racists identify themselves as skinheads. SHARPs draw inspiration from the biracial origins of the skinhead subculture, and resent what they see as the hijacking of the "skinhead" name by white power skinheads (sometimes deriding them as "boneheads"). Beyond the opposition to racism, there is no official SHARP political ideology.
The SHARP logo is based on the logo of Trojan Records, which originally mainly released black Jamaican ska, rocksteady, and reggae artists, and also incorporates the checkerboard motif of 2 Tone Records, known for its multiracial roster of ska- and reggae-influenced bands.
The way in which S.H.A.R.P’s, or skinheads against racial prejudice, dress is to separate themselves from societal notions of hierarchy and imbalance of power. This style and demeanor originated from England, taking bits and pieces from Jamaican ska culture. They remain true to their mission in spreading equality through their clothes, attitude and music. From current and more so past views of society’s dominant and weaker scale, they insist on maintaining a more peaceful and accepting outlook on every member of society. They incorporate a lot of different genres in their expressive, daily message to resist conformity of racial prejudice and the naïve input of other skinheads who may seek to harm and exclude people of different races and cultures.
When the movement began, women were not seen as important role players in the skinhead movement. Their fashion and demeanor was automatically associated in heteronormative idea of them dressing and going along with the skinhead movement because of the men, they may have been with. Over the years, Chelseas or girls in the SHARP movement are accepted and understood as strong and valuable members that can be associated in then SHARP movement without the connection of a man. Chelseas fashion of shaved hair and outfits that fit a denim and laced-up boot look, allow them to share their expression of femininity and strength. They too, go against social norms and do this in a way that follows the history of that SHARP means to it members, belonging and going against white supremists who identify with racial skinhead culture.
The original skinhead subculture started in the United Kingdom in late 1960s, and had heavy British mod and Jamaican rude boy influences, including a love for ska and soul music. Although some skinheads (including black skinheads) had engaged in "Paki bashing" (random violence against Pakistanis and other South Asian immigrants), skinheads were not associated with an organized racist political movement in the 1960s. However, in the late 1970s, a skinhead revival in the UK included a sizable white nationalist faction, involving organizations such as the National Front, British Movement, Rock Against Communism and in the late eighties Blood and Honor. Because of this, the mainstream media began to label the whole skinhead identity as neo-fascist. This new white power skinhead movement then spread to other countries, including the United States.
Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice was started in 1982 in Southern Califonia as a response by suburban adolescents to the bigotry of the growing White Power Movement in 1982. SHARP is considered by many to be a socio-political propaganda tool used to promote misegination. Traditional skinheads (Trads) formed as a way to show that the skinhead subculture was not based on racism and political extremism. André Schlesinger (and his Oi! band The Press) and Jason O'Toole (vocalist of the hardcore punk group Life's Blood) were among SHARP's early supporters. In 1989, Roddy Moreno of the Welsh Oi! band The Oppressed visited New York City and met a few SHARP members. On his return to the United Kingdom, he designed a new SHARP logo based on the Trojan Reggae labels design and started promoting SHARP ideals to British skinheads. SHARP then spread throughout Europe and in other continents. In the UK and other European countries, the SHARP attitude was more based on the individual than on organized groups. In the 2000s, SHARP is thought to have become more of an individual designation than an official organization.
The S.H.A.R.P. movement was especially popular in the late 70’s to mid 80’s. It took some time after the rise of racist skinheads in the 70’s to make their wave of hate, for people to come together and go against them. Many people may confuse them with racist skinheads, since their appearance is particularly alike: shaved heads, denim, lace up boots, collared shirts and suspenders. A differentiation that can easily separate the two would be music interests. S.H.A.R.P’s listen to culturally influenced music such as: Rock, Soul, Reggae, and Ska. Skinheads, who are racist would disagree with these musical choices.
Skinheads can be very complex in their fashion taste and groupings. Two groups that associate and come from the original S.H.A.R.P movement are called “mods”. Some mods may be more into the music and racial freedom movement that came from the S.H.A.R.P’s and the other mods were more into style and how to be uniform and neat. Rude boys were another group who borrow lot of Jamaican culture and focus on the music and caring about how they look with ties and collared shirts.
- Brown, Timothy S. (2004). "Subcultures, pop music and politics: skinheads and "Nazi rock" in England and Germany". Journal of Social History.
- Old Skool Jim. Trojan Skinhead Reggae Box Set liner notes. London: Trojan Records. TJETD169.
- Marshall, George (1991). Spirit of '69 - A Skinhead Bible. Dunoon, Scotland: S.T. Publishing. ISBN 1-898927-10-3.
- Special Articles
- Marshall, George. Skinhead Nation. ST Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-898927-45-6, ISBN 978-1-898927-45-7.
- Monty Montgomery of the Pyramids/Symarip interview
- "Britain: The Skinheads". Time. 1970-06-08. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Skinhead Nation, chapter: The Big Apple Bites Back (archived)
- The Oppressed; Official Website
- BBC - Wales - The Oppressed
- SHARP skinheads
- SARABIA, DANIEL; SHRIVER, THOMAS E. (2004-05-01). "Maintaining Collective Identity in a Hostile Environment: Confronting Negative Public Perception and Factional Divisions Within the Skinhead Subculture". Sociological Spectrum. 24 (3): 267–294. doi:10.1080/02732170390258614. ISSN 0273-2173.