They believed in the superiority of white people over all others and were vehemently anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-gay. And then Brad left: he renounced what he once embraced and turned his life completely around. The new 90th Parallel documentary SKINHEAD tells Brad’s story against the backdrop of a new era of intolerance on the rise in the US and Canada since the election of Donald Trump.
SKINHEAD will air on the CBC Docs POV series on Sunday, November 26 at 9PM (9:30PM NL) This documentary will also be available to watch online at cbc.ca/CBCDocsPOV on Friday, November 24 from 5 p.m.
It’s ironic that Brad grew up in a predominately Jewish neighbourhood in North Toronto, but he was a troubled, needy teen, looking for direction and community. A perfect candidate for the extreme racist movement, largely made-up of similarly disaffected young men. “I was looking for change,” he explains, “and this guy had this group of guys he was hanging out with, which sounded really cool to me.” He was soon indoctrinated getting deeper into skinhead culture with its Nazi salute, intimidating uniforms, customs and, of course, dogma.
“I think Brad is very brave for coming forward to tell his story,” says director Andrew Gregg. “Making this film, it became clear to me that getting involved in these racist groups is like joining a cult. Getting in is one thing – getting out is hard. But the reality is most people involved in the white supremacy movement leave. By telling his story Brad is trying to encourage others to abandon hate.”
SKINHEAD analyzes the long history of white supremacy in Canada exemplified by men like Ernst Zundel, Terry Long, Jim Keegstra and currently Paul Fromm. The film examines the movement in British Columbia, where the target is the large South Asian population and Portland, Oregon, a hotbed of right-wing extremism, where Neo Nazis have committed horrifying hate crimes.
Using archival footage and first-hand reports, SKINHEAD builds a profile of right-wing extremism that few Canadians even knew exists here and includes commentary from experts like Warren Kinsella, author of ‘Web of Hate’ and Dr Barbara Perry, Canada’s leading hate crime expert at the University of Toronto.
Brad found his way out—thanks in part his family, and an organization called ‘Life After Hate’. But today, perhaps spurred on by the Trump presidency, it is possible that North America’s white supremacists are finding more recruits and a stronger voice.