Document Type


Date of Award



College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences (COLABS)

Degree Name

MA in English

Committee Chairperson

Michael Sollars

Committee Member 1

Charlene Evans

Committee Member 2

Carla Brailey

Committee Member 3

Iris Lancaster


African American, African American Literature, Street Literature, Urban Literature


Urban literature, more widely known as street lit is a genre of literature that glorifies and exaggerates drugs, violence, and sex in the lives of its African American characters. Through Street lit readers are introduced to the black man as a figure of power through illegal activity in his community, and black women as either overly aggressive or figures in need of protection. These novels choose loyalty over family, drugs, and athleticism over education, and money and power over morality. These novels and their glorifications cause African American people to see dream lives in goals that are not only unattainable but also morally incongruent with the vision of African American life that African Americans want to project. Instead of aiming to show that African Americans are not the aggressive and dangerous people that society believes them to be, these novels instead portray the lives of these characters as somewhat desirable. This emphasizes making “fast money”. This turns the characters away from legal employment until a business can be introduced to clean the money, such is the case in The Cartel trilogy. This lifestyle that the characters live invites readers to sympathize with literal criminals because of the glorification of their profession and home lives. This paper aims to show the way that Street Lit glorifies negative tropes of African American people and makes them seem desirable despite the lack of a moral compass in its characters.