Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is accusing his parents of racism and “problematic” behavior.
The onetime Super Bowl starter who began the trend of protesting the national anthem before games made the charge in a CBS News interview that aired Thursday and in his new comic book about his upbringing, “Change the Game.”
He attributed disagreements with his parents about, among other things, hairstyles, to their racism.
“I know my parents loved me. But there were still very problematic things that I went through,” he told CBS News.
Mr. Kaepernick is biracial, born to a White mother who gave him up for adoption after his Black father split during the pregnancy. He was raised by two White parents — Rick and Teresa Kaepernick — from the age of five weeks.
According to an account of the comic in the New York Post, Mr. Kaepernick specified one fight as a teenager about his hair.
He wanted to braid his hair in cornrows like NBA star Allen Iverson did, but his parents objected.
“He’s getting what rolls?” his mother says in the graphic novel.
She told her son that this style was “not professional” and meant he “looked like a little thug.”
He told CBS that such incidents “become spaces where it’s like, ‘Okay, how do I navigate the situation now?’ But it also has informed why I have my hair long today.”
His mother’s objections perpetuate racism, he said.
“I think it was important to show that, no, this can happen in your own home, and how we move forward collectively while addressing the racism that is being perpetuated,” he said.
During the 2016 preseason, Mr. Kaepernick began protesting police brutality and racism by kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and inspired numerous other players in both the NFL and other sports to do the same.
The San Francisco 49ers offered him a new contract after the 2016 season, despite a couple of years of declining performance and injury woes. However, he turned it down to test free agency, but no team has been willing to sign him at his asking price and he has never played a down of pro football since.
He sued the NFL accusing the league of blacklisting him over the anthem protests, a charge the league denies. An undisclosed and confidential settlement was reached in 2019.