It is hard to understand privilege when you are born with it. In his semi-fictional series, Colin Kaepernick talks about “white-man privileges.” and the microaggressions he experienced during his high school years. The small behavioral indignities, intentional or not, that communicate derogatory racial insults influenced Colin to become an activist.
Colin in Black & White depicts Colin Kaepernick’s journey as he pursues his passion for becoming a football quarterback and the racism he faces in the pursuit. Created by Ava DuVernay, the series portrays non-violent racial treatment that a black American or an outsider experiences because he or she is not white. Colin Kaepernick’s journey is motivating and important to understand that not all indifferences are verbal or physical, but sometimes psychological and behavioral. How it affects a person cannot be understood unless and until one puts himself in the victim’s shoes.
The roots of racism go deeper than one can imagine. It has psychologically become a part of our mechanism. Sometimes we do not realize how we exhibit microaggressions towards a fellow human being. And thus, it is high time that we become conscious enough to correct our behavior before it is too late.
‘Colin in Black & White’ Plot Summary
Colin begins his story on a football field. A field to which he belongs.
In Turlock, California, an eighth-grader, Colin Kaepernick (played by Jaden Michael), lives with his adoptive white parents, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick. As an aspiring footballer, Colin idolizes basketball star, Allen Iverson. Inspired by Iverson, Colin gets his hair braided.
In school, after a season, Colin’s baseball coach despises his cornrows and requests his parents to get Colin a haircut. At the age of 14, Colin’s mother, Teresa, calls him a thug. And hereon arrives at a prominent point in his life, where he understands that in a white man’s society, a black man’s clothes and hair define his character.
The real Kaepernick, speaking to the camera, informs the audience that the term “thug” is derived from the word “thugge,” which describes a religious group in India. The group prayed to God Kali. Probably, it is a word coined by some East India Companies to insult the men and women of the lands they looted without their permission and left a derogatory name.
With subtle but important history lessons, Colin Kaepernick continues his journey to become a football quarterback.
The most apparent internal conflict in Kaepernick’s life was to choose between his gift and his passion. According to his coach, Kaepernick had a million-dollar arm, and his future belonged to baseball. Only, Kaepernick didn’t have his heart in that game. He played baseball because he was good at it, but his passion, his love, was being a quarterback.
Everyone wanted Kaepernick to play baseball. All schools offered him a scholarship to join them as a baseball player. But with football, he didn’t get any. The world wasn’t prepared to see him as a quarterback.
Real Kaepernick believed that the coaches didn’t see him as a prototypical quarterback. Kaepernick explained the reason why. In a football league where over 70% of the players are black, less than a third of the quarterbacks are black. And all the league’s prototypes had at least one attribute in common, their colour. They wanted a poster, and maybe, according to them, Kaepernick didn’t fit the bill.
Yet, Colin Kaepernick wasn’t ready to leave his dream and passion for becoming a quarterback. He wanted to fight against all odds. On passion, he gave an example of Romare Bearden.
In the early 1930s, Romare Bearden was going to be the first black player in the major leagues, years before Jackie Robinson. To realize his dream, he was told he would have to play as the white man. He shifted his focus to another passion: art. Bearden became one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Using his brilliant folk collages to showcase the harsh reality of the black experience in America is no mean feat.
For Colin Kaepernick, his passion was being a quarterback, and he was ready for the hustle.
‘Colin in Black & White’ Ending
Throughout his journey, Colin Kaepernick faced rejection. He charmingly explained that he had never been anyone’s first choice. Even during adaptation, his adoptive parents had planned to adopt another baby, but it didn’t go as planned. They had to go with the “second choice,” and that was how Colin became Kaepernick.
Colin and his parents went for a plethora of tryouts and sent his video reel to numerous schools. But Colin was rejected each and every time. But then, his prayers were heard, and all his hard work fetched him his dream.
During a basketball match for Pitman High School, two coaches saw Kaepernick playing. They connected with Coach Ault, football coach at Nevada. Coach Ault invited Kaepernick to play for them after a recommendation from the fellow coaches. But it wasn’t a matter of sheer luck.
In the summer before senior year, Colin decided to join the summer football camps of all schools so that they would notice his game. The father and the son made a road trip to every camp within driving distance of Turlock. Kaepernick joined the Nevada summer camp, and that was where Coach Ault assessed his performance. After Nevada summer camp, Kaepernick’s father, Rick, outlined that Coach Ault had a bad mouth, probably because he liked him. Maybe he did, and thus he remembered Kaepernick’s game and invited him to play for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Colin Kaepernick finally achieved his passion for becoming a quarterback and concluded his high school journey by writing a note to his younger self. He wrote that rejection is not a failure but a calibrator. He urged his younger self to “Trust his power and love his blackness.” The series ended with young Kaepernick leaving Turlock for Nevada.
If you are an outcast in a foreign land or ever feel like an outsider in your domain, Colin in Black & White is for you. It is filled with moments that uplift your soul and fill you with passion.
Ava DuVernay (known for Selma) has weaved really emotional and moving moments that make you believe in your power. It makes you appreciate your own skin and inspires you to pursue your dreams. Through Kaepernick’s journey, Ava DuVernay also highlights the microaggressions in a white society.
Many people believe that only physical or verbal racism offends an individual. However, if you happen to be on the other side of the privilege, you may notice subtle behavior and minute gestures that communicate derogatory racial insults, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The unintentional microaggressions result from our upbringing in a racial society where we are taught that a boy with cornrows is a thug. Where we teach that addressing a person of color as “clean” is polite.
Colin in Black & White demands a change in our behavior and psychology. It requests human beings to be more accepting of each other and become more humane.
Colin in Black & White is a 2021 semi-fictionalized television series created by Ava DuVernay and Colin Kaepernick for Netflix.