Colin Kaepernick: Five things from the Colin series in black and white
Black History Month is over, but its message about the importance of black stories continues throughout the year – and is particularly relevant in Colin Kaepernick’s new Netflix series, Colin in Black and White.
The American football star gained worldwide attention in 2016 as the first sportsman to kneel down to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, and has become a global civil rights activist.
But instead of focusing on those acts, the series traces his early teenage years growing up in California, dreaming of playing in the Superbowl.
The format shifts from autobiography, featuring Kaepernick in vision and storytelling, to dramatization of his experiences.
Here are five things we took from the six-part series …
“What you start is not necessarily what you become”
Kaepernick almost did not succeed as an American football player. The key moment in this story was his rejection of several major teen baseball teams.
The series portrayed young Kaepernick, played by Jaden Michael, as a volunteer, deciding to wait for a football scholarship, although he was ridiculed for the decision by his coaches and peers at school.
His belief paid off. He received a football scholarship offer from the University of Nevada at Reno in 2006. After graduating, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
In this episode, the real Kaepernick says, “For me, I played baseball because I was good at it. My passion, my love, was to be a quarterback.”
He thought football was his destiny – but life took him on a different path …
âGrowing up with white parents, I assumed their privilege was mine. I was in a rude awakening ‘
Kaepernick has always been close to his parents, Rick and Teresa, and thanks them for instilling good values ââin him. But the series exposes some of the challenges he faced growing up with white parents in a predominantly white city.
They adopted him as a baby in Wisconsin after struggling to conceive a third child and then moved with their family to Turlock, California.
In various scenes, his parents are unable to comprehend their son’s need to explore his black identity and often fail to recognize that he is being treated any differently.
After young Kaepernick secretly gets cornrows, his father tells him that he “wastes his energy on hairstyles.” Later, his mother tells him that “you look like a thug” when his coach asks him to change his hairstyle in order to stay on the team.
After that, he didn’t have any braids for another 14 years. In vision, the real Kaepernick looks into the camera barrel. âI couldn’t rebel because I didn’t know how,â he says. “But nowâ¦ I know how and I will.”
Kaepernick first knelt on September 1, 2016, before the 49ers’ final preseason game, against the San Diego Chargers. A few months later, her parents released a statement. He said, “We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others.”
“Until the people in charge change their minds, you will be an anomaly”
Colin in Black and White raises questions about what it means to be black in a society that promotes whiteness. It tackles topics that black children and other youth of color face around stereotypes, micro-aggression, alienation and more.
While on a road trip, there are several scenes in which Kaepernick, played by Michael, is treated differently from his white friends and counterparts.
In one scene, which takes place during his high school years, he leads his parents to a baseball tournament when he is arrested by police.
The policeman asks his parents: “Are you okay?” After saying they are, the officer intimidates their son before picking up his gun as he finds his license. Kaepernick is shown shaking. As the policeman walks away, his mother says, âYou dodged a bullet.
Towards the end of the episode, the real Kaepernick says, âI guess what I’ve learned this summer isâ¦ they’re not always going to give you a fair call. But you can’t let them stop you. to play the game. “
‘You will learn to find beauty in a world that tells you there is none’
Kaepernick’s athletic development came at a time when he was also discovering girls.
In one of the last episodes, he wants to take one of his school friends, a black girl named Crystal, to Homecoming – the American school tradition where alumni are welcomed as part of ‘a celebration.
However, his white and black friends each push him towards one of the popular white girls, having described Crystal as “cute” but “so damn black”.
He doesn’t listen to his friends and pursues Crystal regardless, discovering love for the first time.
The real Kaepernick explores society’s views on beauty by explaining a psychological experiment called the doll test, where children were shown two dolls, one black and one white, and asked who was good and who was bad, pretty or ugly and who the children wanted to be most like.
Later, Kaepernick reflects on the evolution of ideas about beauty. He notes that in 2019, for the first time, five of the world’s biggest beauty pageant titles were all held by black women.
‘Trust your power’
The series ends with an inspiring letter to her young self, recited by the real Kaepernick. He explores his ups and downs but how he “wouldn’t trade those moments for nothing”.
He said, “Dear Colin, trust your power. Even when you don’t see it, believe it. Because you’re going to need it. From your first few days, rejection will follow you and it will be there every step of the way. your journey. It will come from people who love youâ¦ and from people who think you are out of place. It will even come from a girl or two. But rejection is not a failure – it is a failure. standardâ¦”
Kaepernick fulfilled his dream of becoming an NFL quarterback, leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Superbowl in 2013.
He later states in the letter that while he was focusing on his role as a quarterback, something else was happening. Something extraordinary …
Is this a clue on a series two?
Colin in Black and White is now streaming on Netflix.