To the people who believe that race talk, specifically talk about racism affecting Black people, has no place in sports, they might melt like the Wicked Witch of the West if they watch a future documentary that ESPN Films announced has recently started production. Colin Kaepernick, along with Spike Lee and his 40 Acres and a Mule Productions, have teamed up to work on a four-part documentary about the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s life. In case there is a small puddle of mass left for those upset about this, one of the producers of this documentary is Jemele Hill, host of the Jemele Hill is Unbothered Podcast and a writer at The Atlantic.
In July 2020, ESPN announced that Kaepernick and his Ra Vision Media had signed a first-look deal with the Walt Disney company that not only includes the ESPN documentary, but an overall deal that will look to feature work produced by persons of color on all of Disney’s platforms.
This announcement could not have come at a better time, with the Super Bowl and Tom Brady’s retirement being usurped in attention by news of the class action lawsuit filed by Brian Flores and his attorneys accusing the NFL of racist hiring practices. Kaepernick wasn’t going after solely the NFL, but society as a whole when he protested the abuse that Black people suffer at the hands of the police, following the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in the summer of 2016. Needless to say, his fate is likely the one that will befall Flores, never working in the NFL again.
Since Kaepernick was released by the 49ers in 2017, he has been largely silent in public. He gave a brief speech later that year when he won Sports Illustrated’s Muhammed Ali Legacy Award. In 2021, he granted an interview to Ebony Magazine that was published in October prior to the premiere of his Netlflix Series, Colin in Black and White that he worked on with Ava DuVernay (of the hit critically acclaimed documentary 13th). The series focused on Kaepernick’s time as a teenager growing up adopted by a white family, and he did appear in the series as the present-day narrator of his past.
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Besides the great opportunities that his deal with Disney will offer talented people that might otherwise have a difficult time latching on with a major entertainment corporation, we will finally get to hear in full what Kaepernick has to say about one of the most important stories of the 21st century. He forced the nation to look at racism during the time of day when the widest cross-section of America is watching the same program: NFL football. He was willing to take whatever heat came his way, and that included going from one of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks for a glamour franchise with major endorsement deals, to out of the NFL before the age of 30.
It’s the unfortunate truth that many don’t want to understand. Doing the right thing does not always come with applause, and sometimes it even comes with great costs. To believe in something does not require the world to cater to it like a dinner in that thing’s honor. True belief is a willingness to fight because it’s the right thing to do, and any cost is worth that fight. Flores is taking on the fight now. Kaepernick is still fighting, and now he has the opportunity to again take that fight to a large stage.
Hopefully, this documentary can show how an evil like racism can get people to a space where they are willing to throw their careers to the wind to fight against it. It could be eye opening for people who have only felt strong enough about something to be the ones who end the careers of others who stand up for what’s right. Or, maybe those people will just melt into a puddle of petulance.