The more things change, the more things stay the same. It feels like we’ve been fighting the same fight for years. But with every victory against hatred, racism, and bigotry, a new uglier head of it arises.
The Anti Nazi League was started in the United Kingdom in 1977 to oppose the far-right groups that were starting to gain prominence at the time. Active as both an organized political party and as radical activists, the Anti Nazi League, or ANL, gained support from MPs, labour unions, celebrities, and musicians. They served as a unified front against fascist, racist, and neonazi groups that were trying to gain power in the U.K., as well as serve as opposition to fight the street gangs being organized by the National Front.
In the 70’s the ANL was part of the group that put on Rock Against Racism, two music festivals that included performances by Stiff Little Fingers, X-Ray Spex, and The Clash. Today, the far-right groups are on the rise again, right here in the States. Like the ANL, it now is on us to fight the racist behavior in our own society.
School Kids Against Nazis was a youth-led spinoff of the Anti Nazi League that put the idealism and hopefulness of the youth against the bigotry and hatred of adults. The adults who felt the need to scapegoat their problems, take from the disadvantaged, and strike up support against minorities really couldn’t stand the idealistic youth trying to fight for a better tomorrow. While there were many ANL spin-offs, School Kids Against Nazis, or SKAN, were unique for their integration into the lives of younger people. SKAN distributed newsletters within schools with information about how to stop Nazis, informing their peers that words alone would not be enough, but that the Nazis must also be faced in the streets. Many found it hard to believe that Nazi ideology existed within schools. The idea that hate and politics doesn’t reach into schools wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Where hatred grows, it can and should be confronted.
Last year we collaborated with our friends from Union on a capsule collection featuring the Anti Nazi League arrow. Both we and Union have always looked for ways to stand up for justice and equality wherever and whenever we can. The original collection was small and only available in person at ComplexCon. Today we’re releasing another collection featuring the Anti Nazi League arrow.
We want to start this year with a reminder to remain constantly aware of the racist actions and dog whistling of those in power now, and to push back against them. We’re up against an administration that would like nothing more than to set us back. Now is the time for us to put our idealism for a better tomorrow to work.
Get involved. Fight fascism. Call out racism. Speak truth to power. As the Anti Nazi League has said: “Love Music. Hate Racism.”