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'Colin in Black & White' not only tells Colin Kaepernick’s story, but shows pervasiveness of racism

Jaden Michael as Young Colin, Diamond Lyons as Ryan in ’Colin in Black & White’. Picture: Ser Baffo/Netflix © 2021

Jaden Michael as Young Colin, Diamond Lyons as Ryan in ’Colin in Black & White’. Picture: Ser Baffo/Netflix © 2021

Published Nov 14, 2021


“Colin in Black & White” delivers an engaging limited fictionalised series based on the life of Colin Kaepernick, while also digging into the systemic racism and micro-aggressions that often plague not only athletes but black people around the world.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Kaepernick became known worldwide in 2016 when he knelt during the American national anthem at the start of National Football League (NFL) games to protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.

In this show about the American civil rights activist and former football quarterback, “Colin in Black & White” gives insight into his formative years, while also being a deconstruction of what experiences led him to becoming an activist.

Kaepernick narrates this drama series recounting his formative years navigating race, class and culture while also aspiring for greatness.

While the average South African might skip the show because American football isn’t something they would care about, outside of whoever is performing at the annual championship game - also known as the Super Bowl - this show is worth the watch.

The first episode, directed by Ava DuVernay, draws you in and keeps you engaged by expanding the scope of Kaepernick’s story.

It really makes his story relatable by focusing on a young black teenager’s growing conscious of what it means to be black in the US and the various challenges that entails.

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While Kaepernick doesn’t seem relaxed initially in his acting performance while he narrates his formative years, he does eventually find his footing in front of the camera and it only makes the limited series more enjoyable and engaging once he hits his stride.

'Colin in Black & White' features great performances by Jaden Michael, Nick Offerman and Mary-Louise Parker who plays a younger version of Colin Kaepernick, and his white parents.

They are very believable in this fictionalised story of his life, and make you cringe at the moments his parents perpetuate ignorant views, but also feel deeply moved at moments when they defend their son.

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The limited series does a really great job at explaining how deeply institutional racism/systemic racism is embedded in the laws and regulations of a society and organisation.

It shows numerous examples of how pervasive racism is, even in moments that seem innocuous, and how black people often have to navigate or fight against it.

It also doesn’t get too bogged down in the specifics of American football, despite it being integral to the story.

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It manages to explain his drive and determination to succeed despite the odds being stacked up against him, and with everyone pushing him in another direction.

The show also makes for great family viewing as it will help parents and/or loved ones initiate important conversations of race. It may also illuminate parents on just exactly how aware children are of racism and what experiences of racism they might have already faced.

The six-episode limited series, which premiered on Netflix on October 29, is definitely worth the watch and makes you appreciate who exactly Colin Kaepernick is beyond the headlines, but also just how much it cost him when he knelt to protest racial inequality.

“Colin in Black & White” is streaming on Netflix.