Hustling, Clean and Dirty

Jennifer F. Hamer

in Abandoned in the Heartland

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780520269316
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950177 | DOI:
Hustling, Clean and Dirty

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This chapter reveals that people who hustle also work in the formal labor market. For East St. Louis African Americans, hustling strategies have been rooted in the city's history. Residents from East St. Louis distinguish “dirty” and “clean” hustles. The dirty kind involves what the public defines as vice or criminality: the sex trade and the narcotics industry. Clean hustles consist of more routine “off the books” interactions, such as the unlicensed auto mechanics and food sales. Prostitution has a deep history in East St. Louis. Dirty or clean, hustling in East St. Louis is about survival. The male and female hustlers there share a belief in the American dream, using hard work and a strong will to climb the socioeconomic ladder.

Keywords: dirty hustles; clean hustles; labor market; East St. Louis; African Americans; hustling; sex trade; narcotics industry

Chapter.  8427 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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