In a new interview, Colin Kaepernick spoke about some problematic childhood instances, including his adoptive mother saying his cornrows made him look like “a little thug.”

CNN reported that while talking with CBS journalist Adriana Diaz for a Thursday interview, the former NFL player said his adoptive white parents perpetuated racism within the home. “I know my parents loved me, but there were still very problematic things that I went through,” Kaepernick told Diaz.

“I think it was important to show that, no, this can happen in your home, and how you move forward collectively while addressing the racism that is being perpetuated,” he said.

Those moments included his mother thinking he looked “not professional” and “like a little thug” when he had cornrows as a child. Kaepernick said, “Those become spaces where it’s like, ‘How do I navigate this situation now?’ But it also has informed why I have my hair long today.”

Kaepernick has previously called out his family’s racism. He told the story of his mother’s reaction to his hair in the 2021 Netflix series Colin in Black & White, executive produced by Ava DuVernay, Kaepernick, Michael Starrbury, Sarah Perlman Bremner and Paul Garnes. 

Shadow and Act covered what he said about the series at the time.

“In high school, I faced a lot of different challenges from sports, to my family, and other parts of my personal life, which a lot of viewers may be able to relate to. But I also faced obstacles as a Black kid growing up in a white family in a white community,” Kaepernick said in the Netflix series. “After meeting Ava DuVernay in 2017, I knew she was the right person to collaborate with. I shared my idea to create a series based on my high school years and she said, ‘Ok, Let’s do it.’ And we started working together to bring these stories to life in the most impactful and compelling way possible.”

Kaepernick recently released Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game, a graphic novel about his school life.