If there is one thing that footballer Marcus Rashford MBE knows, it’s that you can find underprivileged backgrounds in every race.
Growing up in Wythenshawe, Manchester, he credits his mum welcoming people of all races to their home and having friends from all nationalities and accepting them for who they are as a grounding influence.
“For me it’s normal, it’s my life. People that grew to be my friends, friends of my family, all come from different backgrounds. Different races believe in different religions. My mum has never turned anyone away from the door because of their race or anything like that so as a kid growing up that the right thing to do, it’s the normal thing to do.”
The Manchester United and England football star was talking to BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman in the launch episode of a new video content series that explores the experiences of Black players who have represented England called Black, England and Proud.
“My mum has never turned anyone away from the door because of their race or anything like that so as a kid growing up that the right thing to do…”
It’s been a big year for the 23-year-old striker. During the summer he took on the UK Government, challenging them to do better for children and provide free school meals to those that needed it most during the summer holidays, and won.
Marcus has previously spoken passionately about poverty and how having free school meals helped during his childhood. During the interview, he revealed that he’s motivated by doing what’s right and why he started his campaign. He told Sideman: “I couldn’t really care what people have to say. In my mind it’s 100% the right thing to do. Along the journey, people have changed their mind and realised that this is the right thing to do. We should be taking more care of these people that need the help.”
“Nobody ever gets to the top of what they’re doing by not receiving help. So, it shouldn’t be looked at in any different way. If you want to help, give a kid the best opportunity to be healthy and live his life.”
Marcus speaks with a wisdom that belies his young age. His selfless actions to secure more for underprivileged children, which we have already witnessed, gives a glimpse into his activist nature and we learn why he is not afraid to speak up.
“Part of me openly saying that I don’t care about the stick you get from speaking out is because the stigma of people asking for help is something that needs to disappear. It needs to go. Because that’s why a lot of people are in the situations that they’re in, because they feel ashamed of going out and asking for help. The situation is much bigger than child hunger.”
“Part of me openly saying that I don’t care about the stick you get from speaking out is because the stigma of people asking for help is something that needs to disappear. It needs to go.”
He continued: “I remember a few years ago when I first started trying to help homeless people, the thing that led them to being homeless, it wasn’t like bills and stuff, it’s when they couldn’t eat and they couldn’t get the energy to get up and go look for a job today. They were pretty much stuck in bed for a week, for two weeks and then you miss your first month’s rent and then your second month’s rent and before you know it, they’re on the streets.”
The Black, England and Proud video series is a partnership between the FA, Facebook and Refresh Productions. Refresh is a Black-owned production company founded by broadcaster and film-maker Leon Mann.
Discussing the series, Mann said: “Black, England and Proud is a celebration of Black culture, diverse communities and the incredible contribution people of African and Caribbean heritage have made to the national side. Vitally, it also offers an opportunity to learn more about the rich diversity of Black people in England – and our experiences – through our footballers.
Edleen John, The FA’s international, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion director, said: “We’re delighted to launch Black, England and Proud in collaboration with Refresh Sports and Facebook.
“Ensuring that we celebrate the contributions that Black players have made to England’s history has been a key focus for us in recent weeks, not just as part of Black History Month but as a means to drive important conversations around diversity, inclusion and equality among our audiences.
Further episodes of the series will follow through the rest of the year, with present and past members of the men’s and women’s squads.
The first episode of Black, England and Proud is available on Facebook Watch now.