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Book review: 'Twelfth and Race' examines racism

"Twelfth and Race" is by by Eric Goodman, who will be at the King's English this week for a book signing.
"Twelfth and Race" is by by Eric Goodman, who will be at the King's English this week for a book signing.
Provided by the publisher

"TWELFTH AND RACE," by Eric Goodman, University of Nebraska Press, $18.95, 288 pages (f)

Eric Goodman isn't afraid to examine the racism that still exists in present-day America through his book, "Twelfth and Race." A unique discussion about race and identity are wrapped in a powerful love story, allowing the reader to feel more passionately about the issue of racism as they sympathize with the characters.

Richie Gordon is a 30-year-old white Jewish man who struggles with his own feelings of racism. At the beginning of the book, he is constantly stereotyping and consequently feeling badly about it. These feelings are easy to relate to, because it shows Richie was raised in his own corner of America, was not introduced to other races and clearly didn't form all of these stereotypes on his own.

However, the fact that he almost immediately feels guilty for having racist or stereotypical thoughts indicates the goodness and possible innocence of his heart. Goodman points the reader in the direction of thinking America, not Richie, is responsible for the racism that still lives, unexamined, in the hearts of so many.

After a case of identity theft, Richie discovers that a 5-year-old bears his name. He is introduced to Jada's mother, LaTisha, a 25-year-old African-American nursing student, and finds himself completely in love. The unlikely couple is unlikely because of the division of races the author contends is still present in America, and they encounter threats to their relationship throughout the entire book.

At the end of the novel, LaTisha says to Richie, "I know in your heart, Richard, you scared of black people" and sums up the problem in this one phrase. Richie wasn't raised to be friends with black people, and his entire life has cultivated these feelings of racism. "Twelfth and Race" is an excellent way for people to open their eyes to the problems facing them regarding race.

There is swearing and other vulgar language throughout "Twelfth and Race." While the book has a somewhat dark and dirty feel to it, with no shortage of sex or fighting, the swear words could be replaced with cleaner language, and the intense and emotional feel that the topic of racism requires would still be retained.


What: Eric Goodman book signing

When: Saturday, March 17, 7 p.m.

Where: The King’s English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City