Being Different Is 'Supercool'

Colin Kaepernick's First Children's Book Celebrates Black Identity

The book, titled ‘I Color Myself Different’ is based off a real-life experience where Kaepernick had to draw a portrait of his family as a child.

The cover of the children's book 'I Color Myself Different,' written by Colin Kaepernick
Scholastic / Kaepernick Publishing

It’s an assignment we all recall from our own elementary days: draw a portrait of your family. For Colin Kaepernick, this family portrait assignment had some unexpected complexities. In kindergarten, he was asked to draw his family. Kaepernick, who is Black and adopted into a white family colored the rest of his family members yellow and chose brown for his own skin tone.

Kaepernick used this moment as a launching point for his new children’s book, I Color Myself Different, in which a little boy named Colin is given the exact same assignment. When he shows off his artwork to his classmates, questions start to pop up.

"Why are you the only brown one in your family?" "Why did you color yourself different?" At first, these questions leave little Colin with little to say, but then he realizes, "I'm brown. I color myself different! I'm me, and I'm magnificent!"

"I love the fact that we have an anthem in there," Kaepernick told NPR of the title, "or a hook. Because it feels like something that young kids can walk away with and can use." The moment of identity affirmation was critical for Kaepernick, and I Color Myself Different is a celebration of that.

"It's the first documented instance that I have in my life of definitively identifying as brown," said Kaepernick. "And laying the foundation for my identity as Black,” Kaepernick noted of the childhood memory.

The book also features a nod to Kaepernick’s original kindergarten drawing, but he noted that the illustrator Eric Wilkerson “absolutely did me some favors,” and made it look better than the original drawing, which he described as “The bodies are round, the necks are pretty long. The heads are pretty big and round... thick legs and triangle block feet. I tried to draw hearts in there, but they kind of look like tomatoes, maybe apples. No arms at all."

Kaepernick is known for his protests of many racist institutions, including the NFL. From 2011-2016, Kaepernick was the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and he started the movement of kneeling during the National Anthem. He is active in community organizing and continuously fighting against police brutality and racial inequality.

In 2019, he founded Kaepernick Publishing. I Color Myself Different is one of the publishing house’s three books and first foray into children’s literature. The book is currently available for pre-order and is set to release April 5, 2022.