ILLEGAL BLACK BUSINESS, ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES. Organized crime and illegal business activities are found in many inner-city African American communities, fueled by economic disadvantage and blocked legal employment and self-employment opportunities. The predominance of evidence, however, suggests that the organization of criminal activities in black communities parallels that of the organization of legal business activities: African Americans are largely workers and not owners. This was true during the 1920s and 1930s, when many criminal enterprises thrived in American cities, and is true in the post-1980s era, when black gangs and criminal trades appear to be on the rise once again.
Conventional theories of entrepreneurship suggest that blocked employment opportunities and economic disadvantage represent one of many pushes into self-employment. Self-employment offers an alternative to low-wage work and yields opportunities for accumulation of capital and social and economic mobility. When opportunities for financing entrepreneurship and legal business development are also blocked, however, the push of low wages and economic disadvantage often is into illegal activities.
Inner-city African Americans are severely underrepresented among the self-employed, even though conventional disadvantage theories of entrepreneurship—which explain, for example, Korean small business development—would suggest high rates of black self-employment and small business ownership. But the absence of traditional revolving credit institutions, such as the Susu, and discriminatory barriers in commercial and mortgage credit markets have hampered