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Anti-Racist Action (ARA)

Michael Staudenmaier

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics African American, racism, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00102.x


Anti-Racist Action (ARA) has been a militant form of anti-fascist organizing in North America for two decades. ARA is best described primarily as an organizing model, and only secondarily as a formal organization. The Anti-Racist Action Network functions as a loose coordinating framework. While emphasizing physical confrontation with fascists, ARA groups have also struggled against institutional forms of white supremacy, and against sexism and homophobia. Although it has been strongly influenced by anarchism , Anti-Racist Action has remained largely non-sectarian and open to activists of many ideological backgrounds. McGowan (2003) notes that Anti-Racist Action began in the Minneapolis skinhead scene of the 1980s. A multiracial crew of anti-racist skinheads, the Baldies, organized public and sometimes violent opposition to a growing fascist presence. To expand their struggle, the Baldies initiated the first ARA group, with mixed results. Broadening activities beyond opposing fascism initially proved easier than recruiting activists from outside skinhead circles. Physical defense of abortion clinics and opposition to police brutality became key areas of struggle, but the activists remained primarily skinheads and punks. By the 1990s, however, in response to surging fascist organizing in the Midwestern US, and the often tepid or legalistic response from mainstream organizations, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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