# Justice for All: An American Fairy Tale. / by Will Ringland


I was born a white male in a society that tells only good stories about people that look like me.

My life has been easy compared to most other people in the world, even being a disabled man. I have benefitted from systemic sexism and racism where the story arc of America is the "excellence of the white man". America's story is about people like me seizing the dream. Every day, I hear stories about how people like me are good and whole-hearted and successful and are the epitome of what everyone should try to be.

The thing that I struggle with is understanding what it means to have privilege because the effects are dramatic but the system that supports it is so nuanced that even mentioning it makes some people angry. Consider the things I have had in my life that I have taken for granted. I had a roof over my head, three meals a day, mostly stable parental marriage, and most people in my neighborhood looked like me.

Many of the people I know, think of this as "normal" and why would anything "normal" provide an advantage? Sleeping well, being fed, and feeling safe, loved and comfortable in our surroundings all individually contribute to a very real advantage at everything done in a day. Consider the opposite - no roof, no food, one parent, being the only one of your kind in a sea of differences.

The former is a fairy tale. My childhood is a fairy tale and the roof, the food, the school are all kissing the frog before midnight. The latter is more normal than what I experienced. More people in the world live without than with.

White isn't the default and it never was.

At no point in history were there more white people than non-white people. White people have just controlled the narrative because white people have been the most effective and brutal conquerors in history. We have made that the default state by writing it into text books, poetry, television, everything.

Injustice is feeling like the default because that's what every single thing around us says in American culture.

White people telling stories about white people.
White people making heroes and villains.
White people making saviors, martyrs, demons, and devils White people weaving fairy tales about ourselves and excluding even the possibility that the hero is anything but white.

Imagine if everyone told you, every day, that you are not the default. It is the people that look like me that are using that narrative to hold so many people back. What part do I play, conscious or otherwise, in that suppression?

I don't have any special knowledge or tips and tricks to address this sort of injustice. I am still bad at recognizing my own privilege some of the time. But I'm trying. When I tell stories, I don't fill in faces with faces like mine. And when others assume for it, I remind them that we are not the default.

Justice only comes when the stories we tell star don't always start people that look like me.

Posted in