‘Discrimination is a defence mechanism’ – Marcus Rashford reveals how books can heal Britain

Marcus Rashford has achieved an incredible amount during the last number of years, both on the pitch and through his charity work off it.

The Manchester United and England forward has campaigned tirelessly to end child poverty. He successfully forced a government U-turn into continuing their free school meals scheme in October 2020.

He also partnered with the food charity FareShare last year. The equivalent of 21 million meals has been distributed to vulnerable children and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rashford’s work was formally recognised this week. He was presented with an MBE award by the Duke of Cambridge.

Read: Is Marcus Rashford a Sir? All you need to know about the Man United star’s award.

Rashford’s work with books

Marcus Rashford BHM
Image Credit: Getty

Rashford is also a published author. Alongside journalist Carl Anka, he co-wrote the book ‘You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be’ in May of this year.

The book aims to inspire children to achieve their dreams. In addition, it helps them to understand how to navigate adversity in a positive way.

He has also founded the Marcus Rashford Book Club in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books. The initiative aims to donate books to those who cannot afford or access them in the UK and Ireland.

As part of Black History Month in October, Marcus Rashford was named as a BHM Hero.

Now, Rashford features in the third episode of BT’s educational content series Hope United.

The series explores the vital role literature plays in introducing young people to different cultures in their early school years.

In the episode, he candidly explains the importance of education and reading on combatting hate and discrimination. He also speaks about how discrimination itself stems from a lack of education.

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When asked about the impact that education and reading can have, he replied: “I think educating ourselves on, and championing other, cultures can only benefit our understanding.”

“Discrimination usually stems from a lack of education. It’s a defence mechanism. Instead of stigmatising differences, we should be celebrating them.”

“How boring would the world be if we were all the same? Books are a great source for us to highlight different characters and better understand background and journey.”

BHM Hero Marcus Rashford on motivations behind Book Club initiative

BHM Hero Marcus Rashford set up his Book Club earlier this year in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books.

The Free Books Campaign website states that Rashford and Macmillan have donated 50,000 book copies to schools across the United Kingdom since the United forward’s book was published in July.

Rashford spoke to Hope United about the driving factors behind him setting up the initiative.

He also explains why there is still more to be done regarding a lack of representation in children’s books.

Rashford explained: “I think there is still a lot more work that can be done. One of the reasons I didn’t really engage in reading as a child was because I couldn’t really see myself in the characters.”

“That was a big driving force for me setting up the Book Club and publishing my own books – I wanted all children to read books and feel like they were written for them, and that they were representative of modern British society.”

“But bigger than that, the Book Club was designed to equip all children with life lessons and tools to navigate any challenges they were facing, whether that be at home, school or life in general.”

Rashford on influence of football on celebrating diversity

Rashford also spoke about diversity in relation to modern football.

He explained the “unbelievable ability” of football to bring people together and how all players are fighting for the same thing when he is on the pitch.

England Marcus Rashford
Image Credit: Getty

Asked whether society can learn from football and whether modern dressing rooms are places to celebrate diversity, Rashford said: “Football has an unbelievable ability to bring people together. It’s a team game.”

“I can stand alongside ten other men or women on that pitch, and the only common language we speak is football.”

“Without saying a word, I can sympathise, I can understand, I can read, I can relate. When we pull on that shirt, we are all fighting for the same thing.”

For more information on Hope United, please visit www.bthopeunited.com.

Featured Image Credit: BT Hope United