Review: “Colin in Black & White”

Wynton Jackson | Staff Writer

Netflix has released “Colin in Black & White,” a six-part drama series about the life of civil rights activist and former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Colin in Black & White,” directed by Ava DuVernay, focuses on Kaepernick’s high school life, encompassing his journey as an aspiring quarterback, rejection of baseball and other typical high school drama through the lens of a Black child adopted by white parents. 

However, the series is not solely fixated on his teenage life, as the adult Kaepernick appears in every episode. He is shown either watching the show about his own story, narrating his past self’s thoughts or relating the issue addressed in the episode to a broader one today. 

The first installment shows Kaepernick’s cornrow situation. Inspired by former National Basketball Association star Allen Iverson, the then-eighth-grader seeks out an amateur stylist to braid his hair, which is too tight. Kaepernick takes that experience to talk about the NBA’s stringent 2005 dress code rules, the evolution of rap music and what the term “thug” really means. 

Perhaps the most interesting dynamic in the series is the obliviousness of Kaepernick’s white parents. Besides being a boy going through high school and puberty, Kaepernick seemed

to cry or get emotional in every episode and nearly every time. His parents could have soothed his emotions if they understood his situation. 

The viewer learns how woefully unprepared Kaepernick’s parents were in raising a Black child. After getting his hair done, Kaepernick went to baseball practice, where his white coaches noticed his cornrows and notified his parents that his hair was “breaking the rules.” 

Instead of supporting their son, his parents give him an ultimatum: Quit baseball or get rid of the cornrows. The scene then cuts to a dejected Kaepernick getting his hair cut by a white woman in a Supercuts. 

Kaepernick’s mother gets slightly more attention than his father because of her unconscious biases. She is visibly upset when her son refuses to add any seasoning to his plate of soul food, despite previously pouring heaps of salt and pepper onto his mother’s cooking. 

She also tried to hide Kaepernick’s Homecoming photos, as he went with a Black girl named Crystal. She even said to her husband that she hoped the relationship with Crystal was “just a phase.” However, she hung up the Winter Formal pictures with the other family photos, where certain circumstances forced him to take a white girl to the dance.

The series also goes in depth about Kaepernick’s road to becoming a college quarterback. The University of Nevada was the only school to give him an offer. It took a basketball game, in which Kaepernick had a Jordan-esque flu game, for the Nevada scouts to understand his true athleticism. 

Contrary to his lack of success in football recruitment, Kaepernick had every school begging for him on the baseball field. There was even a montage in the show which showed schools such as Stanford, Southern Cal, Wisconsin and Harvard pitching their programs. 

However, because he only wanted to be a quarterback, Kaepernick turned down all of his baseball offers, leading to more discrimination from his classmates, their parents and his coaches. 

The decision to stick to what he loved turned out to be a shrewd one. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in just his second season and then appeared in a conference championship game the following year. 

Kaepernick was thrust into the national spotlight in 2016 when he began to kneel during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality. Since that season,

Kaepernick has remained a free agent, though he has stated that he is still prepared for a comeback to the NFL if a team reached out.

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