CHANGE THE GAME BY COLIN KAEPERNICK
”I think you can make a declaration in your heart about who you want to be. But then you have to reflect that in your actions. You have to make it real.”
You know the Nike ad that set shoes on fire and you have heard of the kneeling. What happened before? Colin Kaepernick’s memoir Change the Game tells his story of being a Black student, adopted by White parents and attending a largely White school. Everyone in his life is encouraging him to pursue baseball and accept one of the offers that come his way. It’s the story of how it can be a challenge to go against the majority and listen to yourself instead.
Many readers will relate to the struggle of making a decision. Kaepernick says that “sometimes, one path seems easy. The sun in shining on it. It’s neatly paved. You could just take that path and go . . . but just because a path is easy, does that make it the right way to go? What if there’s something else waiting for you out there?” The surface story is about a young athlete choosing between two sports, but the messages are much deeper.
Beyond sports, it’s a story of a young Black man dealing with micro-aggressions and finding his voice. In one scene Kaepernick calls out a player for being racist and the coach tells him (Kaepernick) to back off. He narrates his reflection by saying “I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was so angry. If I didn’t speak up, it felt like something would eat at me inside. But when I did speak up, apparently I was doing the wrong thing.” This internal conflict of when to speak up is an important theme to understanding Kaepernick’s decisions but also a meaningful feeling to name for young people. Exploring how one person controlled their internal conflict can be a powerful example for readers managing their inner battles.
I would recommend this graphic novel to readers ages 12 and up who enjoy non-fiction, activism and sports. It’s an accessible text that takes a reflective look at the story behind the athlete and activist we know, Colin Kaepernick.
To learn more about the work Kaepernick continues to do, visit Kaepernick Publishing whose mission is “to elevate a new generation of writers with diverse views and voices through the creation of powerful works of all genres that can build a better and more just world.”