Chapter

Original Gangsta Culture

in Under a Bad Sign

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780226550350
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226550374 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226550374.003.0002
Original Gangsta Culture

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This chapter examines how and why the numbers racket (or policy) became one of the most definitive features of black Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. It explains that the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance was also the golden age of the black gangster and that black gangster enterprise held powerful significance among African Americans as an emulative modern cultural practice. The chapter also considers folklorist insights about the so-called ill-logic of the black badman in relation to the struggle against racial subordination to the space and time of the city.

Keywords: numbers racket; black Harlem; Harlem Renaissance; black gangster; modern cultural practice; black badman; racial subordination

Chapter.  11159 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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