Colin Kaepernick Details Racial Struggle From His Childhood

Super Bowl champ Colin Kaepernick detailed his heartbreaking racial struggle during his childhood after he was adopted by two white parents -- "I never felt that I was supposed to be white. Or black, either." Credit: Blair Getz Mezibov for MR PORTER.COM

His journey. In a new interview with Mr. Porter's The Journal, NFL star Colin Kaepernick detailed the struggle he faced to define himself after he was adopted from birth by two white parents.

Kaepernick, 27, the biological child of a white woman and a black man, told the mag that he knew he was different from his parents, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, a white cheese-making couple from Wisconsin, even before he could speak.

"I knew I was different to my parents and my older brother and sister," the San Francisco 49ers quarterback shared. "I never felt that I was supposed to be white. Or black, either. My parents just wanted to let me be who I needed to be."

However, the world still saw the future standout athlete by the color of his skin. "We used to go on these summer driving vacations and stay at motels," he recalled. "And every year, in the lobby of every motel, the same thing always happened, and it only got worse as I got older and taller. It didn’t matter how close I stood to my family, somebody would walk up to me, a real nervous manager, and say: ‘Excuse me. Is there something I can help you with?'"

Despite his personal dilemma, the one-time pro baseball hopeful credited his father for instilling strong values in him from childhood. "My dad, being a businessman, constantly talked to me about carrying myself in a certain way and treating people with respect," Kaepernick explained. "And I think that’s something that’s carried over throughout my life. It’s how I deal with certain situations."

The struggle, in turn, has made Kaepernick more considerate about how he presents himself to the world.

"My interest in fashion probably would have developed anyway," Kaepernick mused. “But all this stuff made me ask myself in a really focused way: ‘What do I represent?’ And you know what? My racial heritage is something I want people to be well aware of. I do want to be a representative of the African community, and I want to hold myself and dress myself in a way that reflects that. I want black kids to see me and think: ‘Okay, he’s carrying himself as a black man, and that’s how a black man should carry himself.’”

Kaepernick elaborated on his wardrobe comments. "It means thinking about the time, a place, and situation I’m dressing for," he explained. "That said, I like things that stand out — but that also are very clean.... I don’t want something I wear to scream at people when I walk into a room, but I also don’t want to blend in with the wall."

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