Colin Kaepernick’s girlfriend shocked the world on August 3 when she posted a tweet that appeared to compare Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to a slave owner. The tweet came after rumors emerged that Ravens coach John Harbough and General Manager Ozzie Newsome were keen on a deal that would bring Kaepernick to Baltimore. That deal was apparently nixed by team owner Steve Bisciotti.
In response, Kaepernick’s activist and radio DJ girlfriend, Nessa, 36, posted a tweet showing Bisciotti and Ravens legend, Ray Lewis. That was juxtaposed with an image from Django: Unchained showing slave owner Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson.
Since March 2017 Kaepernick has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the 49ers. Many believe that Kaepernick sitting down during the playing of the national anthem at games is the reason for the lack of offers coming his way.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nessa Has Attributed Her Upbringing in Saudi Arabia as Helping to Shape Her Activism
Nessa was raised a Muslim by her Egyptian father and Middle Eastern mother. She has two brothers. When writing about the controversial shooting of Alton Sterling in July 2016, Nessa said that her educated parents were refused jobs “because they have an accent.”
Her father’s work took the family to Saudi Arabia when she was in her youth. Nessa told Starcasm about her upbringing in the early 90s in Saudi Arabia saying, “Here is the thing, I was a young girl fearing for my life– I wore gas masks to school. I heard war sirens constantly and I knew at this point I had to break out of this lifestyle.”
After returning to the U.S., Nessa got a BA in Mass Communication from Berkeley at age 20. Nessa spoke about how she created music in her youth telling Starcasm, “I used to remix songs and even had one of my remixes played on air BEFORE I was officially in radio. It was a remix called ‘Rydaz’ of the Destiny Child song ‘Soldier.’”
During a March 2014 appearance on the Guy Code podcast, Nessa, alluding to her upbringing during in Saudi Arabia and how America is viewed overseas said, “When 9/11 happened, it didn’t surprise me at all. Wow. Mmkay. This is what we went through, probably, every couple months.”
2. When Nessa Got Her Job at Hot97; She Took Over From ‘The Voice of New York’
Nessa began her media career on San Francisco’s Wild 94.4 while also making her own YouTube videos. From there, Nessa got the opportunity to host MTV’s Girl CodeM. It was from there that Nessa was given the drivetime slot on New York City’s iconic Hot97 in 2015 taking over from Angie Martinez, then known as “The Voice of New York.”
Nessa told the Fader about taking on the role at the station saying, “Hot 97 has the best energy and continues to preserve the culture, which was something that I always wanted [in the West Coast] but didn’t have. For me to be part of their legacy is incredible.”
More recently, Nessa has been hosting MTV’s talk show spinoff, Teen Mom Live.
3. Despite Rumors, Kaepernick Says That He Hasn’t Converted to Islam
In Septemeber 2016, Kaepernick was forced to address rumors that Nessa had converted him to Islam. Sports blogger Terez Owens appears to have been the first to spread the rumors writing in July 2016:
Now we’re hearing he’s transitioning to become a Muslim, according to people close to the player. We received this in our tipbox, Colin’s girlfriend, Hot 97 DJ Nessa, introduced him to the teachings of Islam, and he’s ready to embrace it fully. Our tipster tells us Kaep and Nessa are going to have a traditional Muslim wedding. Colin seems to be all over the place lately.
The then-49er blamed the rumors on Islamaphobia that was being spread by Donald Trump.
Speaking to reports, via the Washington Post, Kaepernick said:
I have great respect for the religion, know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people. But I think that [rumor] comes along with people’s fear of this protest, as well as Islamophobia in this country. People are terrified of them to the point where Trump wants to ban all Muslims from coming here, which is ridiculous.
Kaepernick went on talk about the impact dating a Muslim had on his life. “The impact is just conversations that we constantly have. This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim. Her family is Muslim, I have great respect for them. I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe. And I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted or judged based on what their beliefs are.”
Kapernick is known to have bible versese tattoed on his arms. His father, Rick, told USA Today in 2012, “Colin’s a fairly religious kid, but he’s not in your face about it. It’s more about him and what he believes.”
4. Rumors That Kaepernick & Nessa Were Together First Emerged in July 2015
Kaepernick and Nessa were first linked together during the summer of 2015. It wasn’t until February 2016 when the quarterback confirmed the romance.
As Kaepernick’s protests began to gain media attention in 2016, Nessa tweeted, “I’m always proud of him and always will be @Kaepernick7 . Please take the time to UNDERSTAND what he is saying.” She then posted this link to a transcript of Kaepernick’s explanation.
Prior to dating Kaepernick, Nessa dated another 49er, Aldon Smith. In August 2015, TMZ reported that Kaepernick and Smith had to be held apart my team mates during a fight on the practice ground. It was rumored at the time that the fight was over Nessa. Smith was later cut from the team.
5. Ray Lewis Thinks That Kaepernick Should Keep His Politics to Himself
Controversial Ravens legend Ray Lewis uploaded a video to YouTube in the wake of rumors that Kaepernick would sign for Baltimore. Lewis told Kaepernick that his activism and politics shold kept off of the football field.