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ALEJANDRA PANIZO MAYO

SKINHEADS IN SPAIN.

Racism, violence and radicalism are terms we frequently use when we


think about skinheads. It seems that they represent the most cruel and
sordid nature of human society. But why they do exist?; what do we know
about them? The aim of this paper is to discover why “los cabezas rapadas
“ are different in Spain.

The origin of this group dates back to the 1960’s in England, mainly in
working class districts formed by a mixture of black Jamaicans and white
English people. They were distinguished by sharing a tendency to listening
to certain styles of music- such as black music, reggae and lately punk or
ska.They also share a strong hostility towards the hippie movement. Their
objective was to support the working class section of the society, and
although they were not so violent at the beginning, nowadays it is pretty
usual to associate them with street fights or even brawls.

A general belief stands that all the skinheads are racist, but this is not
true. The group SHARP(Skinheads Against Racial Prejudices)appeared in the
United States in 1988 with the intention of being “essential skinheads”
without racist ideologies. However, the xenophobic character of the
skinheads is more obvious in Spain and England. Some of these racist
groups are known as the Boneheads and the Hammerskins, and their
ideology has its origin in England, where racist skinheads used to batter and
hit Pakistani workers, since they thought “they were stealing their jobs”. At
present in Spain, their main target are Arabic and black people, and they
strongly hate hippie people, which are called “the pigs” by skinheads . Even
if you do not have hippie ideals, but you wear dreadlocks on your hair, you
have to be careful and avoid some places, specially if you are alone. Hatred
against foreigners and non-white people is what relates skinheads with the
neo-Nazi culture, as well as their violent way of acting and the physical
appearance. Skinheads usually cut their hair between a two and three grade
clip-guard, almost bold, wear polo shirts or v-neck pullovers, tight jeans with
a bomber jacket and steel-toe army boots. Some complements, such as
suspenders –related to the working class people- or nationalist signs are
very typical as well. Those skinheads related with the neo-Nazi culture
usually wear the swastika as their main symbol. Other symbols are used as
well, and the vast majority of skinheads wear them tattooed .

Their violent character of this social group has to do with football as


well. The most radical fans of the best football teams appear frequently in
the newspapers as the ones to blame for razor wounds, street fights or even
the most cruel murders. Hooligans in England, and Ultras Sur in Spain are
the best example of this. The book Insider: a policeman infiltrated into the
Utras’ standsi illustrates how the Ultras organize themselves and the way
they behave. Ignorance has an important role as well, since most of the
violent skinheads teenagers socially unaccepted that lack a personal
ideology and who do not know exactly the historical background of this
movement. They usually stop thinking like a skinhead as they grow older

Spanish skinheads have a feature that the other ones do not have:
some of them are related to Franco’s dictatorship and ideas, in the sense
that they are against anarchy and the typical “free love” of the hippie
ideology. In fact, there are legal political organizations, such as the so called
“Democracia Nacional”(“National Democracy”) that maintain the dictator’s
ideals, purposes and even symbols, such as the eagle in the Spanish flag. As
in many other countries, the biggest concentration levels of skinheads can
be found in big cities, such as Madrid, where a teenager has been recently
murdered by a neo-Nazi skinhead. However, small cities such as León, also
serve as scene for violent demonstrations of this radical sector of the
society. Last year, a local newspaper iistated that “A female teenager from
León has pressed charges against aggressions and harassment made by
skinheads who wrote a swastika in her face with a knife after hitting and
kicking her”. Although some skinheads complain against the violent
reputation that they have, saying that it is media’s fault, the facts speak for
themselves.

Cultural references to this topic are numerous. In the book A skin’s


iii
diary the Spanish journalist and author Antonio Salas writes:

“In the end, fascists and antifascists are close extremes if they
radicalize their methods as well as their ideology”.

Once again, ignorance and radicalism show the imperfect and sordid
side of the natural tendency of human beings to live in society. And Spain
will not be outdone.
i
The original title in Spanish is Insider:un policía infiltrado en las gradas ultras.
ii
Newspaper: Diario de León
iii
The original title in Spanish is Diario de un skin. Quotation taken from chapter “Cartas a un
skin”, page 9.