From Gangsters to Gangstas: African Americans, Italian Americans, and the Culture of Crime

Kimberly Sims, American University

The idea that there is a similarity between Italian-American and African-American criminality dates back to the late nineteenth century and persists to this day. Kimberly Sims will examine this presumption by looking at the political and cultural significance of symbols and stereotyping, which play out in African-American hip-hop artists’ adoption of Italian-American gangster iconography, as well as anti-defamation groups’ continued attempts to shape pop-culture representations of African-American and Italian-American criminals.