The book describes an alternative 21st century Britain in which segregation is enforced by black people towards white people. Noughts & Crosses addresses the issue of racism.

Racism has been a problem for thousands of years, and the transition to the 21st century has unfortunately not stopped it. It continues in its known forms, but also in new forms related to the contemporary issues. Social movements fighting racism have also evolved over time, using new methods of communication such as social networks. The Black Lives Matter movement is one of them. Created in 2013 following the murder of Trayvon Martin in the United States, #BLM is known around the world, even more after the murder of Georges Floyd in 2020. Following this tragic event, a wave of awareness has set in, proposing to decolonize the thought of people, such as through readings. Because although colonization may be over in the majority of the world, the way people think often remains dominated by ideas and perceptions of that time, even unconsciously.

My object of choice is a book called “Noughts & Crosses”. Written by Malorie Blackman  and published in 2001, this is the first in a fiction series of 6, describing an alternative 21st century Britain in which black people (Noughts) enforce segregation towards white people (Crosses). Through “Noughts & Crosses”, Malorie Blackman aimed to address racism in an unexpected way in order to challenge the readers’ assumptions about its issues (Mukhtar, 2021). Since racism and its derivatives still affect many people worldwide today, in my opinion, this book and books addressing racism in general should be read by as many people as possible, especially young people, with a view to opening up and decolonizing their thinking.

microaggressions: a macro issues

One of the phenomena that could be part of the derivatives of racism, or rather its consequences, is that of microaggressions. Broadly defined, the term of microaggression refers to “(…) brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color” (Sue et al., 2007, p. 271). This can range from people becoming suspicious when a person of color sits next to them on the bus, to explicit commentary on a minority student’s ability to succeed in university per example. What makes microaggressions different from undisguised racism is the fact that it is sometimes difficult to identify, since perpetrators are frequently unconscious of their actions, or the acts themselves are subtle (Sue et al., 2007). Moreover, some individuals, who are less confronted to, or less aware of racism are more likely not to perceive microaggressions as it is, even if they have already witnessed it (Hughey, 2017, p.306).

Example of microaggression in the workplace.

This is a mise en scène showing what it would be if microaggressions happened to white people.

What is also interesting to mention is the fact that microaggressions often have significant effects on the people who experience it, such as moving away from one’s racial group to avoid persecution related to that group (Hughey, 2017, p. 326). Nevertheless, the impact tends to be perceived as minimal, and thus people are often told that they overreact when they point it out. But as Hughey (2017) explained, “in considering the negative effects (from physical and mental health, to loss of resources, status, and opportunities) of continued exposure to microaggressions, it is clear that there not much that is “micro” about “microaggressions” (p.329).

Here are some examples of the effects of microaggressions.

In this post, the focus was put on racial microaggressions. However, it is important to know that all minorities, be they racial, gender or ability, are inclined to be affected by it.  

multicultural literature as a tool to discover other perspectives

As described above, people have a hard time realizing that they can be the perpetrators of racist or discriminatory behaviors, because these are not part of their values (Sue et al., 2004). In reality, the point might be that they do not have enough knowledge about internalized racism. Multicultural literature could lead to solutions to this problem. In this category of literature, the focus is on including “(…) literature about people who are considered outside of the mainstream of society and have been in some manner marginalized. This definition would include people from diverse cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds” (Salas, 2002, p.3). By bringing other cultures to light, multicultural books give people the opportunity to discover new perspectives and learn about underrepresented groups.

John Green explains the relevance of multicultural literature 

As stated by Malorie Blackman, multicultural literature is even more important for young people, who are in the process of constituting their mind (Mukhtar, 2021). School therefore seems to be the best place for this, even more in the 21st century when they hold students from more and more diverse cultural backgrounds (Glenn, 2012). Thus, teachers also need to be introduced to multicultural literature in order to choose the books wisely, avoiding those maintaining stereotypes (Salas, 2002, p.4). Professors’ role is to “strive to provide experiences in the classroom that closely mirror the cultural and linguistic environments of their students” (Salas, 2002, p.3).

Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.

– Desmond Tutu

Multicultural literature allows readers to put themselves in the shoes of people living other realities. This can create discomfort at first, when understanding that a process must be initiated to deconstruct preconceived ideas (Glenn, 2012). In spite of that, counter-narratives have the power to question existing dominant thoughts and to create the feeling of a common human condition, even though experiences are different.

print books versus e-books in our digitised era

Beyond the content, let us now dwell on the medium. Since society is becoming more and more digitized, literacy to new technologies is very useful to anybody now (Merga, 2014). This applies to readers, who must be able to adopt the new virtual way of reading, especially with e-books. Since the launch of the Amazon’s Kindle in 2007, e-books have taken their place in the reading landscape. This may raise questions about whether they will replace paper books. In several universities, this is already the case (Merga, 2014, p.27). However, more generally, the electronic book does not yet seem to be the big winner of this duel, as several factors come into play to determine the preferences of readers (Merga, 2014; Zhang & Kudva, 2014). Assumptions may be made about the new generation readers’ books preferences, claiming that since they are part of what Prensky defined as “Digital natives”, they would necessarily embrace virtual reading mediums (Merga, 2014, p.28). In reality, research shows that most readers continue to go for print books, even more when they read regularly (Merga, 2014).

Pros and cons of printed and e-books.

As described by Zhang and Kudva (2014), the determining factors in the choice of the reading medium are “(…) the number of books read, the individual’s income, the occurrence and frequency of reading for research topics of interest, and the individual’s Internet use, followed by other variables such as race/ethnicity, reading for work/school, age, and education” (p.1695). What people are going to favor thus depends on a lot of factors. Personal preferences also play an important role in people’s choices. For example, some prefer to have an easily transportable object such as the e-book, while others attach importance to the materiality of the paper book, more than to the ease of transport (Zhang & Kudva, 2014).

Books, whether in paper or electronic format, have been decisive tools over the centuries. The messages they can convey can help make people and society better, as it can be the case in the 21st century with the specific topic of mind decolonization. This short blog post provided an overview of the topic, and research is only limited to the United States. To learn more, see the reference list below.


Name: Noughts and Crosses Book

3D Model

Creator: Dounia Katumwa

Date: 23-01-2022

Place: Liège, Belgium

Themes: Inclusivity 

Captured with IPhone XR/11 Camera

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on Macbook Pro 2017, MacOS High Sierra


Physical Object

Size: 19,7cm x 12,8cm x 2,4cm

Weight: 358 g

Material: Paper


Glenn, W.J. (2012). Developing Understandings of Race: Preservice Teachers’ Counter-Narrative (Re)Constructions of People of Color in Young Adult Literature. English in Education, 44, 326-353.

Hughey, M. W., Rees, J., Goss, D. R., Rosino, M. L., & Lesser, E. (2017). Making Everyday Microaggressions: An Exploratory Experimental Vignette Study on the Presence and Power of Racial Microaggressions. Sociological Inquiry, 87(2), 303–336.

Merga, M.K.  (2014) Are teenagers really keen digital readers?  Adolescent engagement in eBook reading and the relevance of paper books today. English in Australia.  49(1), 27-­‐37. Retrieved from: [accessed Feb 07 2022].

Mukhtar, A. (2021, September 14). Malorie Blackman Talks 20 Years Of ‘Noughts & Crosses’: “Racism Maims And Racism Kills. I Wasn’t Going To Shy Away From That.” British Vogue. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from

Salas, R.G., Lucido, F., & Canales, J. (2002). Multicultural Literature: Broadening Young Children’s Experiences.

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271–286.

Zhang, Y., & Kudva, S. (2014). E-books versus print books: Readers’ choices and preferences across contexts. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(8), 1695–1706.