Culture, racism and classism in Colin Kaepernick’s life as a quarterback

Created by Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to receive a Golden Globe nomination for ‘Selma – The Road to Freedom,’ and Colin Kapernick, former NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who went down in history as the first athlete in US majors sports to kneel during the national anthem, ‘Colin in Black and White’ is an inspiring new biographical miniseries available on Netflix.

Within the 6 episodes, Kaepernick’s own narrative voice accompanies scenes from his own adolescence, juxtaposing them with deep social reasoning. The quarterback, ostracized by the NFL for ‘kneeling’, lays bare the genesis of his thinking, his ideals, describing a parable that began with his childhood adoption.

Raised by white parents, Kaepernick lists a long series of more or less overt episodes of racism he suffered at an early age in the small California community of Turlock. Only after gaining a certain cultural and social awareness did these life moments allow Kaepernick to formulate a long introspective journey and lay the foundation for his now world-renowned activism.

Played by Jaden Michael, Kaepernick describes his long battle to become a quarterback, a battle hampered by racial stereotypes and, paradoxically, his phenomenal flair for baseball. During this difficult sporting trajectory, Kaepernick discovers and embraces the ‘black culture,’ inspired by icons like Allen Iverson and Spike Lee.

The various narrative scenes set between Kaepernick’s home and Pitman High School are interspersed with monologues by Kaepernick who, observing his human journey, creates connections between his life and moments that have marked African-American history, not only on a sporting level. Kaepernick’s phrases are knives that plunge into the wounds of American society: direct and effective anthropological annotations that come up with significant metaphors, such as the one between slavery and the conditions of today’s football players.

“I couldn’t rebel because I didn’t know how. Now. Now I know how and I will”. Kaepernick’s rebellion has gone from the NFL fields to the small screen. A rebellion that needs to be watched, that needs to be understood.