Going into Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future by Brandi Collins-Dexter, I already knew there was such a thing as Black Republicans. I knew that there are limitations to the Democratic party and that racism runs rampant among many white liberals.
What I didn’t know was how much diversity there really was among Black political ideology (and how little it has actually been studied until this book). From populism to capitalism, there is a myriad of Black political ideologies no one talks about, or at least connects to Black politics. Because the Democratic party is seen as the only solution to Black political freedom.
When I think of a skinhead, I definitely don’t think about Kanye West (although with his current backlash in the media, I now make the associations more and more). Skinhead to me automatically has racist connotations, but according to Collins-Dexter, a Black skinhead is (among other definitions) “a disillusioned political outlier who is underrepresented in mainstream media discourse”.
Kanye West comes up frequently throughout the book. He is definitely the most prominent Black skinhead in mainstream media, although we like to contribute it to stupidity, mental health struggles, artistry, or whatever other argument people use to fit the thing he said on Twitter that week. Regardless of the insensitive or untrue things he might say, his beliefs are grounded in his politics which have been shaped by his experiences as a Black man in America.
As Black Skinhead points out, Black people are not a monolith, and therefore their political ideology is going to be all over the place. Collins-Dexter uses her varied interactions with Black people from all over the political spectrum to uncover and shine light on the Black experiences that get dominated by political stereotypes (think about all the Black people who consider Bill Clinton as the first Black president).
The connections that Collins-Dexter made to everyday pop culture things to politics, and how that has shaped Black political thought and vice versa. I also liked how she compared politics to her own life and the life of her father. Because so much our lives as Black people have been politicized.
I really enjoyed this book. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. It provided a level of humanity that is often missing in our highly polarized political landscape. Black Skinhead helped color in the shades of gray in a very Black and White experience.