A life that is so far from where I am now, took place starting at age 14, when I first caught on to the skinhead idea. I remember in July and August of 1992, when the standoff with Randy Weaver happened on his property between his family on government agencies. I remember watching in horror as the feds first invaded his property without a warrant, and killed young Sammy Weaver who was Randy Weaver’s 14 year old son. He was my age, and the government just wiped his existence off of the face of the earth, and shot him in the back none the less.
Then they sniped his mother Vickie Weaver while she was in her own home, holding their new born baby. I really didn’t know much about the backstory, why they wanted to kill Randy Weaver’s family so bad. Why Janet Reno had such a vendetta, or why this small American family was in the crosshairs of snipers on their own property. But one thing that I definitely noticed was the only visible presence that was standing up against the dark forces that was killing this family, were the skinheads. There were a wide variety of skinheads and white nationalists standing up against the feds, and making a lot of noise about what is going on.
While in some ways this was negative attention, it was in fact for most of the standoff the only presence that was resisting this tyranny. Despite that most of my friends were rockers, skaters and 2nd wave hippies, I didn’t really care. I wanted to resist also. What happened to young Sammy Weaver infuriated me! So I shaved my big blue mohawk off, and I started changing my outward appearance to protest. It was this year that I started tattooing my body as well. By the time I was age 15, I had been hanging out with punkers, and I talked my friend Irick into giving me a tattoo of a spider on the side of my head. Then I continued to get more and more tattoos.
I disconnected from my main group of friends. The friends that had came to all of my birthday parties, and who I skated with daily. They went off on the faux hippy thing, and I was a skinhead. Plus my parents had separated once again, and had moved apart from each other. So I had moved in with my grandma who lived several towns away from where I went to elementary and middle school. I think it was at this point I got sort of jaded and cynical and I started telling racist jokes. It was basically the same jokes that I heard my father tell, and also ironically the same jokes that I heard Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor tell. However, here I am as a self identified skinhead, and telling racist jokes. It was sort of ironic, especially knowing who my friends were, being that even in Utah which is a mostly white state, that at least as many of my close friends were not white as I had friends who were white. Many of my girlfriends, the girl who taught me who to drive stick shift at age 15 and several of my close mates were either Native American or Hawaiian.
It wasn’t long after this period, when I was still 15 years old that I moved out of my grandma’s house and then moved in with my cousin whom I grew up with and her self-identifying skinhead boyfriend, who also happened to have a swastika tattooed on his ankle. I lived with two of my cousins during this period. My gay cousin, who I once lived with at my grandma’s house, and then later lived with her and her gay lover for a few months when I was 14-15, and then I moved in with my other cousin who lived with the skinhead. It was sort of a paradox. However my gay cousin had the skinhead and my other cousin living with her, and randomly after a verbal disagreement, the gay cousin called the police on the skinhead and my other cousin and turned them in for growing marijuana. At this point, trust was destroyed and I stopped talking to the gay cousin after this, and I lived in 3 different homes with the skinhead and my other cousin. We spent about 2 years together, got a lot of tattoos together, skated together, and traveled together. We eventually both moved on from the skinhead identity, at least the identity that we had been accustom to. My cousin’s boyfriend grew dreadlocks, and I got tattooed with a bunch of anti-racist tattoos from a new movement that I was trying to start.
At the age of 17 I got my first anti-racist tattoo on my foot that said S.P.E.A.R. Which was a new and never coined acronym, and it meant Skins and Punks Everywhere Against Racism.
A year later when I was in Southern Utah, I got a tattoo on my chest that said the same thing, S.P.E.A.R. I made a stand on this, because my gay cousin and others tried to lump me in with racist skinheads. I was venomously against racism, and I worried that my non-white friends would be hurt by this association. So I made a solid stand against racism, and disconnected from the two racialist skinheads that I knew, which was my cousin’s boyfriend and his best friend at the time. I moved to Seattle, and I got into activism, getting signatures for medical marijuana and environmental causes. I got an earth tattooed on my shoulder and more tats about my love for activism and the earth. My gay cousin ever since I was 15 has tried to portray me as an oppressor of gays and others, she does this with pretty much every aspect of her life, always a victim. But I wasn’t going to let that hold me down, or effect the world that I lived in to be influenced by racism. She complains now saying that I got racist tattoos removed from my body with laser surgery, but despite living with her for years, both at my grandma’s house, and with her and her gay lover, she has no photo evidence of me having racist or nazi tattoos. I had a recent spat with her, and I challenged her to produce some evidence of this. I have plenty of evidence going back as far as age 17 showing pictures of my anti-racist tattoos, and as far back as age 12, where I have pictures of me with my arms around Native American girlfriends. Yet she, nor ANYONE else will EVER be able to produce photos of me with racist or nazi tattoos. So I will let that issue lay where it lies. It is unfortunate though that people need to dream up oppression and abuse that doesn’t exist. This is no different that you see these days in pop-culture with “social justice warriors”. But one thing is clear, when I was 15 years old, this gay cousin was 24 years old. When I was 15, she was a friend, she bought me alcohol, she bought me drugs like ephedrine (trucker speed), and sniffed inhalants with me. We had good times, until I started siding with skinheads, and then all of the sudden I am an oppressor. She was always larger than me, either in height or in size. So her faux oppression story is just so sad and so typical.
These are some past videos that I made on this subject;
Reverend Ryan on Racism and Skinheads
When I was a kid I knew a few guys that called themselves “SHARPS” and they would hang out at dance clubs that I went to. This stands for “Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice”. One of these guys attended a computer user group that I went to every week, and he was a classy guy. But the reason that I never brought myself to be a part of this group, is that these people for the most part we like the typical gangsta thugs, who craved violence and drank a lot. I neither liked violence nor did I drink much. It was almost like if these kids were in an inner city like Compton, they would be bloods or crips. Their cause against racism was lost or veiled in negative violence and lifestyles. One guy named Chad Wilright, was sort of their “leader”, and he ended up in jail multiple times for beating his spouse, and many of his little friends were cool unless they were around Chad, and then they followed the leader quite a bit. I remember having good conversations with a guy who was in the SHAPRs and wasn’t my friend from the computer user group. He was half black and half white, named Octavio, and he was one of the most reasonable, and logical people that I have ever met. But I just couldn’t bring myself to be in a “gang”. Which is why I started S.P.E.A.R. Which to me was a statement to stand in solidarity with others against racism, but was not a gang in anyway.
One thing that I loved then and still love now about skinhead, was the music. I loved SKA when I was a teenager, and I saw many SKA shows like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and local bands in Utah like Swim Hershel Swim and Stretch Armstrong, and later starting at age 17 I go in to roots reggae. Since my wife and I got married many years ago, we have saw many reggae shows, with our kids too. Our first concert together was Reggae Sunsplash with UB40. This is skinhead culture 101.
Skinhead was born in the mid-1960’s in the UK with a unique combination of both white working class culture and Jamaican reggae, which then formed the genre of SKA, or otherwise known as Skinhead Reggae.
At this current time in our lives, we live in the Caribbean which has been my plan for retirement since I was 20 years old. I told my life 15 years go when I met her, that we would be retired in the Caribbean by the time I am 40. I am 40 now, and we are retired in the Caribbean. We have sweet sweet reggae shows going on all around us, and lots of good vibes. I still hold a candle for righteous skinhead culture.
This is the story of skinhead, in the video below. What an amazing documentary.
To buy a pin for the S.P.E.A.R movement and show your solidarity against racism, use the button below.
As an after thought, I wanted to point out a modern version of what I consider skinhead culture, without the same name.
This is a great movement IMHO the Poud Boys, which was started by conservative political commentator Gavin McGinnis, in response to the psychotic Antifa movement.
It has people of all creeds and colors, and essentially they hold all of the same conservative values that I have held for most of my life.
The Proud Boys differ from SHARPs in the same ways that I did as a kid, yet still have that traditional skinhead vibe.
Reference to an article that I wrote a few years ago about the Proud Boys
The Story of Tiny (Polynesian Proud Boy)
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