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Powerful doc 'Kaepernick and America' examines sports-driven protest

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid
Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 13:32:09-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — When Colin Kaepernick placed his political ideas above his pro football aspirations, he ignited a national conversation and sacrificed his sports career.

The documentary "Kapernick and America" takes a long, hard look at the figure's ascension and evolution.

The image of Kaepernick — a look of defiant pride on his face — taking a knee during the pre-game national anthem has become an iconic symbol of the two Americas in which we live.

Supporters see Kaepernick's protest as a bold, courageous stand in the face of institutional racism that turns a blind eye to police brutality against minorities.

Detractors see the protest as a cynical, selfish stance of a millionaire with fading athletic talents attempting to draw attention to himself while disparaging the freedoms and privileges that allowed him to ascend to his heights.

Directors Thomas Rockwell and Ross Hockrow take a decidedly pro-Kaepernick bent, focusing on Kaepernick's athletic martyrdom. Placing his ideals over his on-field aspirations, he was seemingly blackballed by the league when he started free agency.

Teams seemed unwilling to give him a shot at playing again, fearful of the PR backlash they'd face by signing him.

Using interviews with Kaepernick, then-San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, and broadcasters Don Lemon and Pam Oliver, the documentarians recount the tale of the unlikely superstar.

A Black child adopted by white parents, Kaepernick grew up straddling multiple cultures.

His flashy style and tattooed torso made him a figure of controversy even before he took his political stance. Once Kaepernick began kneeling, he became a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement and dog whistle grandstanding from politicians.

The doc gives voice to Kaepernick's opponents but focuses on insipid, angry interviewees who bubble with barely-disguised prejudice. They burned and made shooting squad targets of Kaepernick dolls and jerseys.

Some more coherent Kaepernick opponents would have more thoroughly rounded out the package.

Even though the support of Kaepernick's ideals may be divided in 2022, the doc argues, history will likely be on his side. The man known for kneeling will likely stand through the ages as a civil rights figure.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.