The Sounds of Hate: The White Power Music Scene in the United States in 2012
The recent tragic shooting spree at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in which Wade Michael Page killed six people before killing himself after a shootout with police, has drawn attention to the shadowy world of white power music. Page, a committed white supremacist and member of the Hammerskins, a hardcore racist skinhead group, was heavily involved in the white power music scene in the United States. He played in a number of white power bands over the previous 12 years, most prominently the bands Definite Hate and End Apathy.
Page was just one of hundreds of white supremacist musicians listened to by thousands of white supremacists in the United States and beyond. Today, white power music permeates the subculture of the white supremacist movement. Not all white supremacists enjoy white power music, but many of them do, especially neo-Nazis and racist skinheads. For listeners, white power music is not simply entertainment. It is music with a message, a medium used to express an ideology suffused with anger, hatred and violence.
White Power Music in the United States
Today, white power music is well established in the United States, where it has existed for three decades. Hate music arose originally in Great Britain in the 1970s as the skinhead subculture that originated there diverged into two different streams: a traditional skinhead stream and a racist skinhead stream. As racist skinheads emerged, they created a white supremacist variation of the skinhead-related music genre called Oi! (sometimes also known by the deliberate euphemism “Rock against Communism” or RAC). In the late 1970s, and more so in the early 1980s, both the racist skinhead subculture and its music crossed the Atlantic to the United States and Canada.
During the 1980s, the racist skinhead subculture grew and evolved, especially on the West Coast, where it also interacted with the punk music scene that was strong there at the time. As a result of this intermixture, another genre of white power music was born: hatecore punk, a racist version of hardcore punk. Hate music grew as the racist skinhead movement spread, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s. By this time, a number of American hate music bands had formed—some of which, such as Bully Boys, still exist today.