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The ‘Stay In Your Lane’ Approach To Celebrity Is Dead – Ask Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has arguably achieved more for the poorest families in our community in the space of a month than the Government has in the last six. In successfully forcing Boris Johnson to U-turn on a policy to scrap free school meal vouchers for summer holidays, his engagement has almost single-handedly ensured thousands of children will be able to eat this summer.

But of course, this was not achieved alone. Rashford’s partnership with Fareshare, an organisation providing food to charities, reflects his long-term commitment to fighting this issue and the humility required to utilise the struggles of his upbringing to effect change.

In using his profile to draw attention to an urgent national issue, the pressure on the government he created was successful. This is how protesting works, and this is why it is vital anyone with a platform uses it.

Rashford has set a precedent, and there is now no excuse for anyone to stay silent when they know they can play a role in bringing about change.

The creation of the Players Together campaign, led by club captains off their own initiative, has seen members of all clubs come together, using their collective power to fundraise for the NHS

Footballers have traditionally been an easy target for criticism. But this rising generation of stars knows who they are, where they came from and the power of their voices in bringing about changes they are determined to make.

Raheem Sterling has long been a leader of the conversation on racism within the sport, but appearances on Newsnight prove that the influence of his celebrity goes beyond the pitch.

At the start of the pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock publicly criticised top-flight footballers for not doing enough. The creation of the Players Together campaign, led by club captains off their own initiative, has seen members of all clubs come together, using their collective power to fundraise for the NHS.

Most recently, in light of the Black Lives Matter protests, the entire league vocally and publicly demonstrated solidarity with the movement through all players taking a knee at the start of games.

As a multi-ethnic entity that captures the hearts and minds of millions, this is a powerful and necessary statement and has forced conversations about the prevalent racism that exists within the game.

If this is what athletes could do, imagine what the biggest stars in the world would be able to achieve, if they truly and committedly tried.

Arguably, no family in the world is as influential as the Kardashian-Jenners. They too are often an easy target for criticism, but with the amount of attention they command, their relative silence regarding the Black Lives Matter movement is noticeable.

In choosing to continue posting about their own products, they are giving the impression that the moment is over, and that the world has moved on

In the days immediately following George Floyd’s murder, all five sisters released a statement in kind on Instagram but not much else. Kourtney has been the most continually outspoken on raising Black voices throughout this last month.

Forbes’ youngest billionaire, Kylie, has continued to promote her upcoming collaboration with sister Kendall for her cosmetic company, although it was Kendall who mentioned how a portion of proceeds from this would be donated to causes supporting Black trans people.

This falls flat compared to other celebrities such as Selena Gomez, who has been handing over her account to Black leaders to speak in their own voice.

We can all always do more, but really, they can do more. What they put out is just as important as what they don’t. In choosing to continue posting about their own products, they are giving the impression that the moment is over, and that the world has moved on.

You only have to cast your mind back to 2017, and Kendall’s tone-deaf Pepsi advert, which has been recalled in light of the protests of the last month, to get the sense that it seems they fail to fully understand the messages they send out to the world.

Nobody can afford to ‘stay in their lane’ because we all exist within this world. No-one lives outside of politics; some can just afford not to take notice

The family has long had an issue with cultural appropriation too.

Of course, this is not a ‘care only if this impacts you’ issue. Nothing ever should be. However, when the majority of the sisters’ children are mixed race, you’d think their personal connections would result in greater, more committed engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement.

We’ll never know what they have done in private, but this is a time to speak out. Nobody can afford to ‘stay in their lane’ because we all exist within this world. No-one lives outside of politics; some can just afford not to take notice.

Celebrities with these enormous platforms need to be doing something with them, because the attention they command through their words and their action can change the minds of millions and even, the direction of government policy.

Rachel Roberts

Featured image courtesy of  Dmitry Golubovich via Wikimedia Commons. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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