“Colin in Black and White:” NAAM

This is day 9 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.

This series should be mandatory viewing for prospective adoptive parents. Mandatory viewing for adoption agency staff, therapists, and counselors. Everyone should watch “Colin in Black and White,” now on Netflix, but those folks should be among the first in line. Adoption is not the main focus of the six episodes, and Colin Kaepernick arguably is so well-known that he does not need his voice elevated. Still, the story of adoptee Colin Kaepernick, Black/biracial son of white adoptive parents, will resonate with many adoptees. I hope the show generates a lot of conversations about transracial adoption and the need for racial mirrors and mentors. Perhaps it will also elevate the voices of other adoptees as to the genuine work that needs tp be done in the adoption community.

Ava DuVernay is a co-creator, director, and producer of the series.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick achieved fame most notoriously for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism in America. White America punished him severely for that, in a knee-jerk reaction that was not rooted in understanding Colin’s rationale (American history, personal trauma, willingness to take a stand against injustice–a great American tradition) behind the decision to kneel.

This new memoir/documentary/re-creation of Colin’s coming-of-age looks not only at Colin’s high school years, but also at the crushing, cruel realities of racism in America. He got his hair braided (and his head hurt a lot the first time), and then had to cut it in acquiescence to white people’s standards, those of his white adoptive parents and his coaches. Allen Iverson features prominently in that part of the film and his life. Interactions between Colin and Black people in real life were tentative, comforting, confusing, and soul-healing.

That hair.

Colin’s adoptive white parents came across to me the way a lot of white adoptive parents (that includes me) do: well-intentioned, loving, and missing a strong racial lens. They just didn’t get what it meant that Colin was Black, and would be perceived by the world as a Black boy and then man. Nice people, encased in white privilege. Totally unable to see the racism and micro aggressions that Colin was subjected to. It is painful to watch, and it happens all the time in transracial adoption.

The show also contains a Black history primer, including a re-enactment of the career of the great artist Romare Bearden, who was also a star baseball player. Colin narrates and curates a range of information and history, and integrates these sequences with his own story. I’d love to see another season where Kaepernick weighs in more viscerally on adoption, as well as about his decision to kneel during the national anthem. In any case, this is a thought-provoking show to watch, for all of us in the adoption community, and for anyone who wants to learn more about one of America’s most intriguing and talented sports icons.

1 thought on ““Colin in Black and White:” NAAM

  1. I agree .. one of the best mainstream media shows that portray our racial experiences as transracial adoptees! I highly recommend this show too and LOVED that he has found his voice now and has been able to call it for what it is – racism. Too often, well meaning adoptive families gloss over the impact that daily micro and macro aggressions has on our sense of self.

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