How it feels to work with Colin Kaepernick

LEVEL Editors
Published in
7 min readOct 6, 2020

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You’ll be pressed to find another celebrity with Colin Kaepernick’s unrelenting work ethic. To refer to him as a celebrity — at least today — feels egregiously inaccurate. He’s an architect, a writer, an editor, a producer, a politician, a talent scout, a closer, even a funnyman, but he’s always dead-ass serious on his intent.

How do I know? Because I’ve spent the last seven months working with him. And today, the fruits of that journey are available for you to read. Abolition For The People is a monthlong project unpacking Kap’s case that only by abolishing policing and prisons can we undo systemic racism and move toward a better future.

Back in March, the LEVEL team and I started pitching Colin and his team on what a LEVEL X Kaepernick Publishing collaboration could look like. We presented a slate of stories that had our brand’s DNA, some of which were already underway. All of us have worked on magazine issues with celebrity guest editors, so we figured this would work the same way — he’d sign off, send some tweets, maybe talk to some of his famous friends, and build from there.

Looking back, we couldn’t have been more shortsighted. If a project doesn’t make a global impact, it isn’t part of Team Kaepernick’s playbook.

That first editorial meeting started off warm and fuzzy. But by the end I left the Zoom call as fearful as I was joyful. Calling for the abolition of this country’s police and prison system is a point of no return. There’s no hedge. You’re doing it with a fist in the air and an emphatic fuck you to a broken system. We were expecting to brainstorm in the next meeting, but Colin already had a loose outline that firmed up fast. It became clear to me that this was going to be his 1619 Project moment — our 1619 moment.