BBC Series: Noughts and Crosses
By Shanea Oldham:
Noughts and Crosses is a new series that portrays the Black experience through the eyes of white characters. The series is both innovative and engaging, putting a different spin on mainstream understandings of history, colonialism, racism and oppression.
Noughts and Crosses was originally published as a novel by Malorie Blackman in 2001. It was adapted into a series and released earlier this month. The series highlights an alternative world which runs contrary to history, with white people (‘Noughts’) being subordinate to a Black ruling class (‘Crosses’). Flipping the script on history, white people live in the shadows and underpasses, angry and unhappy with their subservient lives. This adaptation really digs into the heart of Blackman’s message. In reversing prejudice, we’re better able to imagine, see, and comprehend the extent of racism in the real world. More than that, the series acts like a poetic, political deconstruction of what racial privilege means.
About The Show:
The show spotlights everyday microaggressions and institutional racism, enabling viewers to better understand how covert racism feeds into a bigger picture of systemic violence. Noughts are inferior and completely written off, Crosses joke about their pale skin and names are mispronounced without apology. Here it’s white people who don’t get plasters to match their skin colour, and who are barely represented within the media. Other inequalities weigh more heavily. Noughts are barely seen in senior positions, usually working as cleaners, waiters, or construction workers. Although slavery has been abolished, Noughts are still servile to their Cross masters. In this fictionalised world, it’s Black people who control mainstream media (all manipulated to favour themselves - fake news is a big theme), who can afford to attend university and who dominate government. The series also highlights the police harassment and brutality within marginalised communities portraying scenes with violent police officers, all of whom are Crosses, hurting and abusing Noughts.
At 4Front, we acknowledge the racial injustice and oppression that affects a majority of our members at so many different levels which are highlighted throughout the series. Not only do we acknowledge these injustices, we use our understanding to fight for freedom from these injustices for all of our community and most importantly our young people. The systemic racism that infiltrates all sections of our society is ignored by those who have the most privilege and therefore we believe this series is significant in breaking down racial attitudes and their influence on everything; from policy to education to public perception (all clearly highlighted in the series). Despite the show being a fictional dystopia, there is a lot of truth reflected in their depictions of how our communities are victims of racism, oppression and physical and structural violence. By depicting a society in which Black, rather than white supremacy dominates; Noughts and Crosses exposes the reality of racism for Black people in Britain. We are ignored, oppressed, beaten, racially profiled and forced to abandon our hopes and dreams, if some of us ever felt like we had any in the first place.
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Franklin, E., 2020. Noughts + Crosses Is An Enlightening, Evocative Drama. [online] Culture Whisper. Available at: <https://www.culturewhisper.com/r/tv/noughts_and_crosses_series_bbc_stormzy/14575> [Accessed 13 March 2020].
Sturges, F., 2020. Race-Reversal Drama Noughts + Crosses Will Induce Hernias In Right-Wing Commentators – Review. [online] The Independent. Available at: <https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/noughts-crosses-bbc-review-stormzy-jack-rowan-masali-baduza-race-reversal-a9377056.html> [Accessed 13 March 2020].