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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Lessons from 'Noughts and Crosses'

[#teaching + #learning about #racism] (Part 1 of 3) I recently shared that I’ve become Co-Chair of the Racial Equality and Ethnicity Balance Network (#REEBN) at Cambridge University Press & Assessment. I was asked some questions about this for an article, and as I prepared to answer them, I was reflecting on how certain things have been more helpful in my own journey to understanding more about #race, #culture and #identity.

Along the way, I’ve been grateful and lucky to come across teachers of various sorts who have had a big impact on my understanding so far.

In this next couple of posts I will share three of them here on LinkedIn with you, along with one key takeaway I learned for each.

Here’s #1:

The first resource I ever remember that really helped me was a book called #NoughtsandCrosses by Malorie Blackman.

This was the first time my eyes opened wide to matters of racism. I was in Year 9, at my secondary school in London when I read it (about 15 years old), and I have read it a few more times since then. We read it as part of our English lessons, and so we did a lot of digging around the related topics in school. I think this book is a very accessible place to start in any journey of learning about racism, whether for adults or teens, as it is just a story to read - no action points, no to-do’s, ‘just' a fictional story.

Yet it is a riveting one that will help open things up in your mind. Every student and friend I have given it to says the same.

💡Key Takeaway:

When I read how one of the characters had to put a brown coloured plaster (bandaid) on their white skin, that really left a profound impression on me. (In this novel, the world was inverted skin-colour wise). When I related it back to the world around me, I remember thinking: she’s right - we don’t really have brown, dark brown, or black coloured plasters (bandaids)… They’re mostly cream or pink by default. A simple, small thing that led me to a lot of questions and thinking on this topic.

In the next post I’ll share another important teacher who has helped me learn more about navigating #identity and #racism.

P.S. Just a heads up for any #teachers considering using it for in class use: the story has a theme in it that may not be appropriate or suitable for some schools in the MENA region or for more conservative contexts. Let me know if you've any questions.

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