Manchester United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard has said that Black History Month is an important opportunity to educate against ongoing racism and social inequality.
Black History Month takes place in the UK throughout October and Lingard has called it ‘massive’ because more and more people are starting to understand why it is necessary.
“Education is massive when it comes to tackling issues such as racism, social inequality and things like that,” the 28-year-old explained in a lengthy blog for England Football.
“You go to schools and they are so diverse. There is a mixture of people and everyone has to understand each other because sometimes at school it can be really hard for some people and we surely want to improve that.
“When I was in my school in Warrington, we only had four or five Black people and at the time you don’t think about it – you just go to school to learn. But cracking down on racism in school and giving children the knowledge and understanding at school should mean that when they leave, they will have a better understanding of things.
“You will always get those one or two people that don’t really care but as long as we get the majority to understand why we do what we do to try to stop racism then hopefully it will help us all.”
Lingard wants people to have an understanding of things like segregation to be aware what Black people have been through in the past.
“In this day and age, it is obviously not to that extreme but there is still racism happening,” he said.
Professional football has played a significant role in raising awareness of some the issues associated with racism in the UK. It has also produced countless ugly moments, with numerous footballers racially abused, both in stadiums and online.
“People might say ‘stick to football’ but there are lots of things in the world that need solving and need sorting. And we are the type of people who can use our social media platforms to voice our issues so it is important for us to do that,” Lingard added.
“We have tried to do that with taking the knee. At first when the stadiums started to fill up again, a couple of boos went out, which to be honest I am still trying to get my head around. It is people not understanding or having a knowledge of what we are doing it for. But personally I think taking the knee is helping in a way. We are trying to get somewhere. We are trying to make a statement.”
Lingard has also called on social media companies to do more to block out the online side of abuse, explaining that he has seen it up close because of what Marcus Rashford has been through.
“It was horrible to see him go through that,” Lingard said, referring to the abuse his friend received after missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout.
“It is people who are ignorant and don’t understand what people have gone through in their lives. It is easy to hide behind the screen and make a little profile and be racist to someone but for us we are humans at the end of the day.
“In terms of tackling the wider problems, like I say, I think it all starts with education and that is why I think Black History Month is so important.”