Reel Reviews | Colin in Black and White

by Tim Gordon

Colin in Black & White is an upcoming limited drama series, premiering on Netflix. The six-episode series dramatizes the teenage years of athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick. The cast includes Jaden Michael as Kaepernick, and Nick Offerman, and Mary-Louise Parker as his adoptive parents Rick and Teresa, as well as voiceover narration by Kaepernick himself.

The series follows Kaepernick (Jaden Michael) as he navigates his young adulthood in a small, mostly white rural California town with two loving but sometimes oblivious parents who really don’t understand what challenges come with raising a black son.

There are several telling microaggressions that young Colin must deal with and unfortunately despite the fact that his parents did their level-best, there were incidents that he neither could properly articulate nor understand how to advocate better for himself that left lasting marks, which in turn helped turn him to evolve into the strong outspoken Black man he became.

Created by Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay, each episode opens with an educational history lesson, which serves as the foundation for what audiences will experience. Kaepernick’s voiceover work as well as appearance, most times watching the action, off-frame, give the story a solemn overtone as Kaepernick gets to re-experience some of the most awkward and painful moments of his adolescence.

As an aside, I had a very strong debate about the series with one of my best friends and at the conclusion, we ended up on opposite sides. His belief was despite the many misgivings and faux pas his parents committed during this period, the result and success that Colin enjoyed overshadowed their transgressions. As I was asked repeatedly, “what should they have done?” or “what did you expect them to do?

My initial response was something other than what was done. Whether I see too much of my own journey in Kaepernick or the constant microaggressions and the pressure and experiences that many Black people have to deal with and overcome to simply survive with their dignity and sanity intact were all brought to the forefront when watching this brilliant series. The fact that Kaepernick’s parents, Rick and Teresa, portrayed by Nick Offerman and Mary Louise-Parker, adopted him and gave him a loving home should not be dismissed. My issue is that to quote Spider-man, “with power comes great responsibility,” and you have to understand that when you take the responsibility of raising a Black man in America that you have to ensure that he is in touch with his heritage and respect that fact that the experience will be culturally different from what you are accustomed.

Colin in Black and White pulls the curtain back for a first-hand look at Kaepernick’s Wonder Years, some wonderful, others not so much but for the man that so many only remember for taking a knee, the series is brilliant for the stand that he currently takes.

Colin in Black and White premieres on Netflix on October 29.

Grade: B+

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