Colin Kaepernick says ‘I Color Myself Different’ in his first kid’s book
When Colin Kaepernick turned 5 years vintage, his kindergarten teacher gave his elegance an undertaking: Draw a photo of your family.
Kaepernick colored his whole family yellow. When he was given to himself, he used the brown crayon.
“What I realized in drawing my circle of relatives turned into that in my entire magnificence, I turned into the best one that didn’t seem like the rest of my circle of relatives,” says Kaepernick, who is Black and followed into a white family.
That simple-seeming mission turned out to be a pivotal second for the way Kaepernick considered his identification. It additionally became the inspiration, many years later, for his first children’s ebook, I Color Myself Different.
In the e-book, a bit boy named Colin reads on the floor, throws soccer within the park, and in well-known thinks it is “super cool” that no longer many people seem to like him. “I even have super cool skin, supercool hair, and a supercool own family,” Kaepernick writes. “Sometimes it’s no longer clean, however being considered one of a type certain is extraordinary.”
When the kindergarten class gets the task, younger Colin can not wait to reveal off his drawing. Until his classmates ask him:
“Why are you the only brown one in your circle of relatives?”
“Why did you shade yourself special?”
Colin freezes — in the beginning — due to the fact he realizes his ordinary registers as “unique” for different humans. But then he tells his elegance:
“I’m brown. I color myself specific! I’m me, and I’m staggering!”
“I love the reality that we’ve got an anthem in there,” says Kaepernick, “or a hook. Because it seems like something that younger children can stroll away with and might use.”
It’s advantageous, to maintain second, particularly whilst Colin’s classmates and Black instructor chime in to aid him. Kaepernick says it felt like that for him in real life, too.
“It’s the primary documented instance that I ever have in my lifestyles of definitively figuring out as brown,” says Kaepernick. “And laying the muse for my identity as Black.”
Colin Kaepernick is most famous for being a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, wherein he played from 2011 until 2016. He has been the maximum vocal protester within the NFL when it comes to police brutality and racial inequality inside the U.S., and he’s additionally worked in network organizing. He founded Kaepernick Publishing in 2019 and announced a multi-e-book publishing cope with Scholastic. I Color Myself Different is the debut children’s book for both Kaepernick and illustrator Eric Wilkerson.
“I noticed Eric’s preceding paintings and… There are a few matters that immediately jumped out,” says Kaepernick. “One became his ability to drag emotion together with his illustrations and honestly convey that to lifestyles… He becomes able to create just beautiful scenes of their entirety.”
Wilkerson comes from an amusement background — he’s worked in movies, advertisements, and video video games — and used Adobe Photoshop for those illustrations.
“The first issue I desired to do is provide the characters a stylization that made it look… Greater like nonetheless frames from a lively movie,” says Wilkerson. “I wanted it to experience like you turn every page… And it’s like any individual simply paused the movie.”
One of Kaepernick’s favorite illustrations is young Colin’s status, shoulders returned, chin up, chest out, smile on his face. The entire photograph inspires self-belief. Wilkerson explains it really is intentional — it is called the “low-perspective hero pose.”
All the illustrations are brilliant and colorful, with plenty of ambitious reds and desaturated blues. Wilkerson and Kaepernick collaborated carefully on the look of the primary character, Colin. Kaepernick despatched over a few grainy early-life photographs. They often worked on the illustrations together, over Zoom, with Wilkerson making modifications in actual time.
“We talked in-depth about the style of the face, the shape of his nose, the ears, the hairstyle, the texture of the hair,” says Wilkerson. He didn’t need the principal man or woman to be an exact likeness of Kaepernick, but there may be definitely a resemblance.
For this book, Wilkerson additionally re-created Kaepernick’s original childhood artwork, which is blanketed inside the back of the e-book.
“He surely did me a few favors,” Kaepernick says, guffawing.
He describes his unique drawing in this manner: “The our bodies are spherical, the necks are quite long,” he says. “The heads are quite massive and spherical… Thick legs and triangle block feet. I attempted to attract hearts in there, however, they form of appearing to be tomatoes, perhaps apples. No arms in any respect.”
The first-rate part of the drawing, Kaepernick says, is the little Lhasa Apso, Kiwi.
Wilkerson gave it an expert upgrade and a non-public contact. “I would bodily preserve a crayon the incorrect manner after which try and draw with it,” he says. “But additionally giving myself best 2 minutes to do it.” He asked kids of pals and their own families to draw, after which he scanned their paintings for the book.
“So even my daughter drew our complete circle of relatives and it is on the bulletin board within the school room inside the ebook,” Wilkerson says. “I turned into so pleased that we were given to place that during there.” He extensively utilized his daughter as a version for young Colin.
“The cover is basically, you understand, her outdoor conserving a newspaper,” he says.
Kaepernick’s nieces, Leilani and Knysna Reid, additionally contributed paintings to I Color Myself Different. “Part of the muse for this e-book become I became analyzing books to my niece, Knysna,” says Kaepernick. “A lot of the books just didn’t have characters that appear like her.”
Leilani and Knysna illustrated the cease-pages with a series of hearts, a unicorn, the sun, Kaepernick’s jersey range, and smiling people.
“Thinking about two young Black girls being able to see their paintings in a published book and from a younger age have the ability to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve had my artwork posted. Now, what else can I do?’ You see the way it begins to open up possibilities for them just mentally of in which they could move and what they could do,” says Kaepernick.
Kaepernick says he gave this much attention to each detail that went into this book. He wanted to ensure his message turned clean: being unique is “super cool,” but being specific is also normal.
“Growing up in a white city and white population or white spaces, you are constantly the fly inside the buttermilk,” he says. “And it turned into truly one of the things we went backward and forward on… How can we address the reality that I’m adopted and special in my family, however also ensure that we’re no longer positioning Black as extraordinary, or brown as specific.”
So he made positive that the books young Colin is studying on the first page constitute various opportunities, with one about space, coding, plus a superhero comic. It turned into vital that Mrs. Musa, the kindergarten teacher, be a Black female with an African name and that the nice pal who steps in to aid Colin is Black.
“They can also feel like small portions, but within the grand scheme of things they add up to be lots,” Kaepernick says. Ultimately, he and Eric Wilkerson hope that this e-book enables youngsters to experience much less on their own.
“The part that I love about being unique is you don’t experience like you’re a duplicate,” says Kaepernick. “I get to be precise. I get to be my complete self and. I get to simply be free in that feeling.”