In Colin in Black & White, former NFL star Colin Kaepernick – the man who kneeled during the US national anthem before games to protest police brutality – looks back on his life. Kaepernick and director Ava DuVernay wrote a kind of intersection between documentary and drama. A hybrid form in which Kaepernick’s voice is constantly present in reality, whether it’s in the voiceover or not, or in the movie scenes in which he comments on his fictional character, played by Jaden Michael. It soon becomes clear that Kaepernick’s life story perfectly lends itself to a broader perspective on racism in the world of sports and racism in the United States.
Kaepernick is the son of white adoptive parents and did not come into contact with black culture until later in his youth. This immediately leads to animated scenes in the first episode, for example when the next athlete enters a hair salon for the first time where black Americans are styling their hair. But Kaepernick wants cornrows, his hair is braided, and that doesn’t happen if you want to play sports with your buddy, because then you look like a “thug”, and a criminal. And although his parents (the great roles of Mary-Louise Parker and Nick Offerman) didn’t initially have much trouble with this, they changed their minds when the baseball coach called: Colin should go to the hairdresser.
This tale is linked again to a larger story: how basketball star Allen Iverson was portrayed as a criminal about 15-20 years ago, due to his appearance. What DuVernay and Kaepernick do next is introduce the viewer to the antithesis of these prejudices; By offering a course on black culture. In scenes that are made with great love, without pedantic gestures. Because love is perhaps DuVernay’s style of work, who always makes beautiful dramas – see Selma (2014) and When They See Us (2019) – can also be described as critical pamphlets about America today.
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Colin’s only black-and-white Achilles heel is that the sequence build becomes apparent every time Kaepernick interrupts another scene. This sometimes seems a little artificial. But the fact that the life of a man who does not want to succumb to criticism is now in the spotlight in this way is completely justified.
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