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An interview with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently revealed that he struggled as a child. He attributes his white adoptive parents for "perpetuating racism" in his upbringing.
Kaepernick's mother allegedly wanted him to wear cornrows like basketball player Allen Iverson; however, Kaepernick claims that this hairstyle caused him to get into fights with his parents and has continued to impact his life decades later.
In a recent interview on CBS News, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick discussed his upbringing. According to the publication's press release, he understood his adoptive parents' love for him but also saw them as problematic.
The 35-year-old is sharing details about his childhood to promote a new book co-written with Eve L. Ewing, professor and sociologist at the University of Chicago. In it, he discusses his teenage years and how he became self-aware.
He admits to feeling uncertain about his race and identity, but maintains he was "always learning and growing." It took him some time for him to acknowledge that he was African-American.
Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, a white couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who had two children from a previous marriage, adopted Colin after both of their sons succumbed to congenital heart defects. Although born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rick and Teresa chose adoption over waiting for an appropriate match for Colin.
Kaepernick excelled in sports and academics during his high school years, serving as a starter on both basketball and football teams as well as playing varsity baseball.
His parents, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, both nurses, lived in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin before moving to Turlock, California where they raised their three children.
One of his earliest memories is his father correcting him for wearing cornrows, which he said were to imitate Allen Iverson. According to CBS News, he felt like his parents were being "retarded" and didn't understand why he wanted to become an athlete.
Kaepernick attended the University of Nevada in Las Vegas after graduating high school and became a three-time All-Big 12 selection while playing college ball.
Unfortunately, his career began to unravel when he refused to stand for the national anthem before games. This caused him to miss several contests and eventually lead to being cut by the San Francisco 49ers.
Kaepernick was an NFL free agent during which time he continued to speak out against police brutality and racial injustice. His activism for social justice often made headlines in the media.
Before becoming the symbol of a national protest movement and starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick was just another teenager struggling with family, community, school and major life decisions. His new graphic novel "Change the Game," co-written with Eve Ewing and illustrated by Orlando Caicedo, chronicles his high school years before he gained notoriety for kneeling during the national anthem.
Kaepernick recounts his turbulent relationship with his adoptive parents in the book. He recalls many disagreements and arguments they had, many of which involved racial insensitivity. One instance involves a disagreement over Kaepernick's desire to wear cornrows - an example he says illustrates this point perfectly.
He says he wanted to sport cornrows like NBA player Allen Iverson, but his mother didn't approve of the hairstyle.
Kaepernick also admitted that he often pondered whether or not he was on the right athletic path to the pros. Despite receiving numerous offers from colleges and house visits from Major League Baseball personnel, he ultimately chose to follow his heart and wait for an NFL scholarship.
As a biracial boy, Kaepernick struggled with his identity in a white family and the culture that misunderstood him. He yearned for acceptance both on and off the football field.
At 14, Kaepernick made the decision to get his hair braided into cornrows - a traditional African-American head wrap. This decision caused controversy with his coaches, who insisted he must cut his locks in order to play sports.
His adoptive parents weren't particularly fond of the hairstyle; they deemed it "unprofessional."
In his interview with CBS News, Kaepernick discussed this tumultuous period in his life and how it spurred him on to become an activist. He also talked about his desire to return to football after being sidelined for kneeling during the national anthem. His new book, Change the Game, details this journey while working on a documentary with director Spike Lee about his activism.
Kaepernick has earned himself a place of notoriety as an iconic cultural figure for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Since then, he has become an outspoken activist for social justice issues, publishing a graphic memoir about his upbringing that targets young readers.
He asserts his adoptive parents "perpetuated racism" while he was growing up in their home, telling him corn rows looked unprofessional and made him appear like a "thug".
Kaepernick recounts in the Netflix series Colin in Black and White how his adoptive parents "were supportive of his dreams to play football," but they "ignored all the issues of racism."
Kaepernick's show, Turlock, California, follows him as he navigates his identity and the consequences of racism. As a biracial teenager, Kaepernick must cope with both internal struggles and external effects caused by racism.
His adoptive parents, Rick and Teresa, were a white couple from Wisconsin who moved to Turlock when Kaepernick was four years old. Although they already had two biological children, Rick and Teresa chose to adopt the young boy instead.
Kaepernick often traveled to baseball tournaments as a teenager and stayed in hotels. While there, some people in the accommodations made racist comments towards him.
At these times, he began wearing his hair in cornrows as a way of protecting it from damage.
Kaepernick also donned wigs to protect his hair from sunburn or damage caused by chemicals.
However, his adoptive parents still told him the wigs looked unprofessional and weren't a great look.
Kaepernick often wore his hair in cornrows throughout his teenage years.
He said he did this to protect his hair and appear more professional at work. Additionally, he felt it was an effective way to keep his locks out of his face while playing football.
Kaepernick said he doesn't know his future, but he wants to use his position to fight for racial justice and hopes to return to the NFL someday.
In a new interview, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick charges his White adoptive parents of "perpetuating racism" in his upbringing. He claims they were insecure about his blackness and had to deal with numerous difficulties growing up with them.
Last season, the 32-year-old attempted to return to the NFL by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. His action garnered widespread media coverage and even resulted in death threats against him.
Now that Kaepernick has officially resolved his grievance against the NFL, he hopes to be signed by a team this year and demonstrate his skillset. Unfortunately, many of the NFL teams are unwilling to sign him due to his protests.
LeSean McCoy has expressed his skepticism that other teams would hire Kap. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, McCoy noted that Kap is not "ten times better" than other players and believes it's due to his protestations that people have yet to take him on board.
He noted that he believes the NFL to be just as racist as Trump, who has likened it to slavery. This isn't his first time criticizing the league for being too prejudiced, and it likely won't be the last either.
In 2016, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback attracted much attention for his controversial protests, and it's easy to understand why people don't take him seriously anymore. But he is working hard to change that perception, and so far it appears his efforts are paying off.
Years ago, there were few who supported Trump. Though some in the public voiced support for him, most weren't on board with his agenda.
Growing up, Kaepernick was often told that corn rows looked unprofessional and should wear his hair in an afro. Additionally, he would get into arguments with his mother over this same hairstyle.
Kaepernick's forthcoming graphic novel, Change the Game, details these disagreements and how they impacted his upbringing. While his parents loved him unconditionally, there were "very difficult things" he had to endure. Through sharing these struggles with others, Kaepernick hopes people can learn from his experience and offer support to those facing similar difficulties.