Published 08 October 2021 6 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Lingard: Racism is still happening and Black History Month is a chance to educate

Written by:

Jesse Lingard

England forward discusses the importance of Black History Month and education when it comes to tackling issues such as racism and social inequality 

Black History Month for me is massive. I think everyone is starting to understand why we have it and respects it more now. I really like that other people also like to get involved and gain knowledge about what Black people have been through and what our ancestors have been through. Growing up it was tough for our ancestors and I think in this day and age, people are more aware of what went on.

To be honest, when I was growing up I did not really have the knowledge of Black history that I have now. Then as I got older, I started to understand things a bit more. Of course we did bits and bobs at school and I think it is important that schools do that because it helps to educate people and crack down on the racism side of things.

Education is massive when it comes to tackling issues such as racism, social inequality and things like that. 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.

Jesse Lingard lining up for England ahead of the game with Andorra | Illustration above was created by Nadia Akingbule.
Jesse Lingard lining up for England ahead of the game with Andorra | Illustration above was created by Nadia Akingbule.

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.

For me it is good for all children to get an insight into what went on and things like segregation, the bullying and things like that. When you think about what our ancestors went through it is crazy but it was the norm at the time. Things like sitting at the back of the bus, whites-only shops… you think ‘wow, that actually went on’. In this day and age, it is obviously not to that extreme but there is still racism happening.

So I believe it is big for us as footballers to speak about these issues. We have the platforms for our voice to be heard and we want to use that platform to try to reach as many people as we can. We are not going to sit behind our screens and curl up in a ball. If something needs to be said then we are not afraid to say it.

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.

England and Scotland players taking the knee during UEFA Euro 2020
England and Scotland players taking the knee during UEFA Euro 2020

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.

This kind of thing has been going on for many years in football and it is only right for our generation now to keep taking that stand and making a statement.

I also think the social media platforms need to do their part - that is a fact. They need to find a solution to online abuse. Things like users needing their ID or passport to set up an account or if you are under the age of 16 or 18 then your profile remains private, stuff like that. It may seem so simple but I think it could be effective in helping.

It is so easy for people to create a fake profile and write something. It is so cowardly. Then they will see you in the street and ask for a picture. That is what it is like. So I 100 per cent think you need to provide a form of identification like a passport or your ID to gain an account on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and they need to play their part in trying to help.

Jesse Lingard scoring against Andorra in September
Jesse Lingard scoring against Andorra in September

Obviously I saw first-hand how bad it can be with Marcus (Rashford) in the summer. Marcus has done so much for so many families, helping them put food on the table and raising so much money, and then he gets racially abused after missing a penalty.

People don’t understand still. It is so frustrating for us as players and the whole team. It is so frustrating after how hard the team worked to get to the final and then stuff like that happens.

It didn’t even come into my mind, straight away when he missed – I didn’t think anything like that would happen. That is what I am saying about the world. People don’t understand what he has done for other people and how much people are thankful for what he has done. But miss a penalty and get racially abused. I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense.

Marcus Rashford received a lot of support from the public after the events of the summer
Marcus Rashford received a lot of support from the public after the events of the summer

It was horrible to see him go through that. 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. 

It has been hard on people but we are so strong and we stick together as a group, as people, and we try to stay strong minded about things. But it is ignorance 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.