E. (yhibiki) wrote in little_details,

Racism & the Mafia in the 1920s

I'm sort of in the character-development stage of my 1920s mafia story, and I'm wondering: how likely/possible is it for an African American man to become a "made" man? This is set in Chicago, and from what I've researched the Chicago Outfit was "racially diverse" but those citations only ever mention Irish, Jews, and Greeks as being included, all of whom are (presumably) white.

Additionally, supposing a black man DID join, what would the attitudes of the other mafia men be towards him? I sort of imagine it being near impossible to rise in the ranks given the racial tensions of the time. I'm also supposing his family/friends would not support his decision to join (if he even tells them).

Can I assume that mafia members were a product of their time, and as such, shared most of the rest of society's view? Would love to have a friendship of sorts between a white mafia guy and a black guy (whether he's a gang member or not) but I'd like to get it right (and not hand-waving ignoring issues).

Google searches included all different combinations of mafia, cosa nostra, racism, chicago, 1920s. Also looked through the archives here and found some very interesting links on mafia of the 1920s in general. I've gotten plenty on attitudes towards black people in general, but nothing about the mafia's specific views.

Will be hitting up the library on the weekend, so if there are book suggestions that would be lovely too. :)

EDIT: Oh, wow, thank you for all the help. I just want to clarify, while I know that race was considered differently then than now, I (perhaps mistakenly) was under the impression that discrimination against another "white" person would be lesser/different than against black people.

I'll probably go with making this man another form of criminal. Have lots of reading to do now. :)
Tags: 1920-1929, usa: history (misc), usa: illinois, ~organized crime, ~racial prejudice (misc)

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