Chapter & verse: Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Peter Cruchley on why Isaiah reminds him of footballer Marcus Rashford
Let’s explore these words from Isaiah alongside the words of the English footballer Marcus Rashford, who wrote – on 2 November, in an open letter to his ten-year-old self: ‘For a young boy who says so little, one day you will have a voice that speaks for many.’ Rashford was born in Wythenshawe, south Manchester, and now plays for Manchester United. Through his recent letter, Rashford encourages today’s children and young people not to lose hope as they go hungry in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.
At ten, Rashford’s world was a million miles away from the lifestyle of a Premier League footballer. In a letter sent to all of the UK’s MPs in June, full of pride in the love of his mum and his community, Rashford recounted his childhood. He described his story as ‘all too familiar for families in England’, explaining that despite having a full-time working mum who made sure he had a good evening meal, he went hungry at times:
The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked … we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches. Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us.
Rashford’s words tell of a system-challenging truth that tears up the typical tabloid stereotype of feckless single parents. It describes the deliberate outworking of a system which is not designed to support the most vulnerable – a system failure, as Rashford’s letter goes on to say, that helps hardship to continue.
Rashford speaks this truth because he, a black man, has lived first-hand the inequalities of a white-privileging economic, social and political system. There are those who have sought to silence his campaign. By attempting to do so, they have only confirmed its truth because they have sought to limit privilege, not extend justice…
This is an extract from an article published in the December 2020 / January 2021 edition of Reform