Colin Kaepernick’s miniseries Colin In Black and White has a surprisingly large scope. It uses a narrative device in which he’s in a room in a brutalist gallery. That gallery has a screen showing some moments of Black American history. Like a, pardon the parlance, whitewashing of his idol Allen Iverson. There’s also a digression on a “young teenage immigrant from Jamaica” who ended up being DJ Kool Herc. But mostly, he tells the story of himself during his high school days in a very white and Conservative Turlock, California. There, he has to find himself and the only way to do that is seek out others like him. Telling the story with him are directors and writers like Ava DuVernay and Robert Townsend.
Some of the show’s digressions can be funny, like the one where a Black lawyer wearing braids subjects himself to a job interview with a white partner-level lawyer. It’s funny expect for the fact that there is a Chappelle Show sketch just like it. And I have ambivalent feelings about people stealing jokes from Dave Chappelle at this cultural moment. Nonetheless, that sketch reflects the realities of someone who is legally a boy dealing with professional environments. The white lawyer in the sketch seem familiar to Kaepernick’s real life. Like the white coaches that young Colin (Jaden Michael) have to deal with are the least professional characters on this current landscape of television. Although in fairness, their unprofessionalism reflects their apathy towards him and towards the Black students playing their sports.
These digressions also serve as a record of all the Black athletes, famous or obscure, who have come before him and have paved the way for Patrick Mahomes. Or at least, it’s an attempt to make such records. Any self aware person, regardless of race, knows that their story has connections with previous people who share the same attributes as them. But it also feels like these random story threads crowd into Colin’s story. When the show eventually gets to him, he’s a deer in the headlights and surrounding him are white people. People who are comically terrible at convincing him to do what they want him to do. Colin is thus one Black child in a sea of white people. The way I write about these coaches make them seem like mustache twirlers and there’s probably some truth in that.
A nerd like me wouldn’t know about high school coaches outside of my very homophobic PE teacher. Colin’s parents (Mary Louise Parker and Nick Offerman) then seem more nuanced in comparison. They’re a shoulder for him to cry on as he risks a more stable high school baseball career for a riskier one in football. But those moments are few and far between. Most of the six episodes of the miniseries show his parents taking everyone’s side over his. This depiction makes me suspect that Kaepernick and his parents aren’t on speaking terms. I have no idea how expensive this miniseries is, and I like seeing actors and crew getting jobs. But he could have aired this dirty laundry out on a family mediation meeting or a delightfully messy Twitter thread or something.
Colin in Black and White comes out on Netflix on Friday, October 29, 2021.
- Release Date: 10/29/2021