Never Giving Up Through Adversities

Olivier Pilon
5 min readNov 16, 2021

Colin Kaepernick opens up brilliantly about his youth in Colin in Black & White.

The pro footballer, Colin Kaepernick, in the Colin in Black & White docuseries. Netflix

A couple of hours. That’s the time it took me to finish the new series, Colin in Black & White. Couldn’t be better all around. It is unlike any other shows you’ve ever seen, partially because the ex-quarterback has a crucial narrative role in it. And part of his message revolves indirectly around the action he took in 2016, when he kneeled during the national anthem at the beginning of a preseason game.

At the moment, he faced backlash for this simple gesture that meant a lot for minorities across the US, especially for members of the black community.

Colin had some guts to do what he did back then. His message was simple: bring awareness about injustice facing the black community in the country, as well as police brutality. His affirmation was a wake-up call for the sports world, as well as the entire globe, about what was sadly destined to happen. On top of every tragedy facing minorities in the US at the hands of police officers, in the summer of 2020, a man was murdered by a police officer for no reason, in front of others in the middle of the day, while a witness was filming the horrible scene.

The world then saw the reality that was no surprise for so many. This problem isn’t new and it isn’t going anywhere soon. Now it is time to bring bold measures, including body cams for police forces as well as well-aimed training for everyone to trust the profession.

To come back to Colin Kaepernick, he suffered lots from this moment in 2016. It cost his career as a quarterback in the most prestigious football league in the world. Well, that’s what we thought at the moment. We now know that the league is a champion in hiding scandals and ignoring demands for more fairness in professional sports.

No one, no team in the league, has considered hiring Colin, even though he deserves to be the quarterback for at least one of the 32 teams. He trains every day and he is in top shape. That’s all he wants, a shot to get back in the action and do what he loves most: football.

The documentary is talking about how he became an activist throughout the years and how he needed to overcome many adversities, including discrimination because of the colour of his skin. It even goes back to when the former president was trashing him in front of the entire world and how some media, like Fox News, treated him like a monster. It shows footage of the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, displaying how bad it can become when hate takes over everything. When people embrace discrimination and the fear of others instead of opening their arms to the beauty of diversity.

He never was the first choice of coaches and the first one picked by schools. He always needed to fit in, like it was the case of when he was getting looks and comments as a young black kid in an ocean of white teammates.

Most of the things Kaepernick witnessed growing up were microaggressions. Based on stereotypes and falsehood, people were judging him differently from others just because of the colour of his skin (a sad reality that still exists to this day).

Like I wrote in my last article, there are things more important than sports in life. Standing up for justice is one of them. It must guide our actions. For example, if you see something that is not acceptable in your day-to-day job, will you make as if it never happened or will you stand up for justice and be on the right side of history?

You’ve got a decisive choice to make. Most, only not to shock to many folks or to not put their job at risk, prefer to stay quiet even though it isn’t the right move. You will always be judged by what you decided to do when it got difficult or controversial. For Colin, it might not have seen like a good decision in the heat of the moment, but it enabled him to do much greater things moving forward; he was able to change the world, and how we talk about inequalities and racism.

He could’ve easily gone into baseball after high school, because of his performances and his talent as a pitcher. Even though he had a true talent for all kinds of sports, his dream was to play football on a professional level. The lesson here is to never give up on your dream in the wake of setbacks or people telling you it cannot be done.

Colin Kaepernick decided to pursue his passion and ignore the dissident voices that were telling him he shouldn’t pursue football. He is what perseverance is all about. Don’t ever give up on your aspirations even with when there are so many hurdles on your path.

I started to watch the well anticipated coming-of-age series on Friday evening, only to finish everything the next day. It is only 6 episodes but still; you won’t be able to stop, I’m telling you. The acting is spot on, everything is perfect. It is rare that I finish a series that fast, but the viewing on this one came so naturally. The series shows us a Colin we had never seen in the past, one that opens up about his upcoming and how difficult it was to fit in as a teen and a young adult.

Even though people wanted him to be different, or be similar to the pack, he decided to remain focused on the dream of achieving the NFL and becoming a pro. We can see this when young Colin wanted to have corn rows like his NBA idol, Allen Iverson. It turned a lot of heads. It was even a game changer for his baseball coach who didn’t let him play the sport with that hairstyle.

We see an intimate look into the athlete, now considered a racial justice activist. While the actor Jaden Michael is playing young Kaepernick, the famous sportsman is the narrator all along. We hear how it was from his experience. How it was to be raised by two white parents, and how it was growing up (from dating life to fitting in). Personal life events are brought to life. Vulnerability and truth are the essence in this case. We find a way of falling in love with the human he was and who he has become. He risked everything for justice.

You can win all the trophies and the championships, but not lots of athletes can say they changed the world as this trailblazer did. This is why the story of Colin Kaepernick matters so much. It is a story that so many have gone through, suffering because of racism and discrimination.

All of it is inspiring and makes you put your life and actions into perspective. Are you really making a difference in trying to make the world a better place? Is it something you aim for daily?



Olivier Pilon

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon