Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick opens up about his childhood, specifically his experience with racism while growing up with his white adoptive parents. According to CNN, Kaepernick spoke with CBS journalist Adriana Diaz on March 9. He gave a few examples from his difficult childhood, admitting that his mother told him that his cornrows made him look like “a little thug.”
“I know my parents loved me, but there were still very problematic things that I went through,” Kaepernick told the reporter. The former San Francisco 49ers player continued to explain that it was important to identify all the ways that racism can be perpetuated in different spaces.
“I think it was important to show that, no, this can happen in your home, and how you move forward collectively while addressing the racism that is being perpetuated,” he said while discussing the recent release of his graphic novel. He describes a time when he had his hair done in cornrows as a child, and his mother told him that she thought he looked like a “little thug” and “not professional.”
“Those become spaces where it’s like, ‘How do I navigate this situation now?’ But it also has informed why I have my hair long today.” As reported by CNN, Kaepernick talked a little more about his experiences with his hair in his 2021 Netflix series Colin in Black & White. In the series, Kaepernick said, “In high school, I faced a lot of different challenges from sports, to my family, and other parts of my personal life, which a lot of viewers may be able to relate to. But I also faced obstacles as a Black kid growing up in a white family in a white community.”
“After meeting Ava DuVernay in 2017, I knew she was the right person to collaborate with. I shared my idea to create a series based on my high school years and she said, ‘Ok, Let’s do it.’ And we started working together to bring these stories to life in the most impactful and compelling way possible.”
Kaepernick conducted the interview to talk about his recently released graphic novel called Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game, that’s designed to talk more about growing up and his school life; the novel particularly focuses on making it into the NFL from his high school, and how growing up with white adoptive parents affected his relationship with them.