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Book Review: The Big Book of Racism

The creators of ego trip strike again.

November 6, 2002

Although their publication has been defunct for several years, the creators of ego trip magazine continue to sporadically release books that showcase their unique perspective and sharp sense of humor. The first effort, ego trip’s Book of Rap Lists, is the best book on hiphop ever made. Their latest work, ego trip’s Big Book of Racism, aims to provide an equally thorough reference guide to America’s rich history of prejudice.

Like the Book of Rap Lists, the Big Book of Racism is a collection of rants, little known facts, irreverent lists and shorts memoirs. The topic of racism is certainly of greater diameter than that of hiphop, but the authors handle the inflammatory subject with the same sense of detached cynicism that made their virgin tome so enjoyable. The Big Book of Racism may not explicitly be a “hiphop” book, but there is no mistaking where the writers’ loyalties lie. Though not a prerequistite, many of the book’s colloquialisms and references indicate that a certain amount of hiphop knowledge is assumed of the reader. After all, the typical chronicle of race relations doesn’t include Fat Joe along with Roberto Duran and Augusto Pinochet as Latinos possessing “cabezas calientes”.

After “we just hate everybody” as a precursory statement, the Big Book of Racism breaks its hodge-podge of racially-charged material down into a few rough categories. Chapters include “Disgracism”, “Lights, Cameras & Affirmative Action” and “Da Yella Pages”. Punnery aside, this book isn’t made for linear reading. The Big Book of Racism is perfect for thumbing through while riding the subway or taking a shit. Flip the pages, read about “10 Popular Films in Which Middle Easterners Must Die in Order for the Good Guys to Win.” Leaf through a few more. “Assassination Day: Getting to the Bottom of J.Lo’s Dearly Departed Derriere.”

Unlike the Book of Rap Lists, the Big Book of Racism isn’t something that is particularly enjoyable to tear through. We all know American history is cluttered with smallpox blankets, Jim Crow laws and Korean market burnings. Even ego trip’s witty observations can’t sugarcoat our nation’s blemished past. Perhaps that’s the whole point. By placing “A Racial Guide to Strip Joints and the Politics of Lapdancing” alongside information about the Crown Heights Riots, the Big Book of Racism forces the reader into a game of tit-for-tat. Laugh a little, learn a little.

The easily offended or just plain dense should look elsewhere for reading material. One of the beauties of the Big Book of Racism is that the authors are able crack jokes like (to paraphrase) “the number one place you can find Blacks and Latinos together is prison” while skewering Reggie White for saying “Asians are inventive and can turn a television into a watch.” But without this cake-and-eat-it-too attitude, the Big Book of Racism would find itself funneled into either becoming a Big Book of Racial Jokes or a Big Book of Racist Deeds. Luckily the guys at ego trip have enough minerals to put out a book that both entertains and enlightens without pulling any punches.

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