I am currently sitting in my comfortable chair, counting down the hours until my beta-readers get back to me on my latest novel: Brash the Dragon Stars in: Brash the Dragon’s First Adventure. And with a title like that, it may be a bit surprising to learn that this novel does, in fact, star a dragon. I know, right?
You may be wondering: Why a dragon?
White men are really crappy about dealing with privilege.
(Also, dragons are cool.)
Let’s back up and give you some context. The novel is set in the far future. Atlantis has returned to our world—bringing with it magic, elves, dragons, dwarfs and an immense tidal wave that smashed the coastlines of the Atlantic rim and killed hundreds of millions of people. From the rubble has been rebuilt a new world order: The Federated States of America—a fascist organization of human supremacists who seek to rule the world under their iron boot heel. And into this world hatches Brashivalamapthorus. Or Brash, for short.
Brash, being a dragon hatchling, is an innocent character—but, he comes preloaded with a great number of powers and abilities. He’s a near perfect shapeshifter, he can teleport at will, he can regenerate from immense bodily damage, he has an innate reserve of magical energy that he can harness into casting powerful spells, he can breathe FIRE, he is super-strong, super-fast, and super adorable. And, because he is so powerful, Brash never has to actually grow up. He never has to get cynical or jaded or hardened because the reasons why people get cynical and jaded and hardened are to protect a vulnerable self from a world that will chew them up and spit them out.
Brash is able, due to his immense power, to simply walk through these dangers as if they don’t exist.
Brash. Is. Privileged.
And the story is implicitly and explicitly about Brash realizing that he is privileged—realizing that not everyone can fly, teleport, shapeshift, regenerate, and take anti-mech plasma cannon shots to the head. There’s a reason why: it’s that Brash is a genetically engineered creation of the very state that he is struggling against (don’t worry, this isn’t a twist—it’s revealed in the first chapter, if you know how to read), and there’s a reason why, at the climax of the novel, I have Brash taking a backseat to the cast of supporting characters. Who, I hasten to add, are all women of various minorities.
Though, this is the space-future, so they’re space minorities in the same way Brash’s privilege is space privilege. One is a magician, one is a paladin, one is a cyborg, and so on.
And there is also a reason why I had Brash’s privilege be something he was born with. He didn’t choose to be a dragon–in the same way a rich, white, straight cisgendered man chose to be born rich, white, straight, cisgendered and male. That’s a big source of plaintive whining that I hear from fellow rich, white cisgendered men, and something that always gets my eyes rolling so hard that they almost unscrew from their sockets and fly across the room. “Why are you judging us just because of how we were born?”
I should be slightly more sympathetic. It sucks to be judged for something you didn’t choose to be. But it also sucks to be stuck at the bottom of a systemic hierarchy of privilege that puts you in the “Other” category. It sucks to be implicitly excluded from the culture and government of your home nation-state. It sucks to be poor and have all the options in your life choked off than someone richer and more connected than you.
And that’s why at no point does Brash express unhappiness at his status as a weapon of mass destruction designed by an evil state of space-Nazis.
Instead, Brash does what everyone with privilege should do.
Firstly, he learns.
Secondly, he fights.
And thirdly, he knows when to let himself be kidnapped by the agents of the Empire, thrown in prison, and get heroically rescued by the badass sidekick characters while bringing down an evil Empire with cleverness.
So, in real life, if you have privilege, don’t whine about having it, and people being mean to you because of it. Do something. Get involved with politics. Use your money and your status as a protected individual to make noise and get upset. At the very least, speak up when someone tells a racist, sexist, or classicist joke. Oh, wait, no, at the very, very, VERY least, be educated about the world.
Because not everyone is a dragon.
But we all should be, one day.
About the Author
David Colby was born and grew up in a household and family so nice and wonderful that his early life was completely and utterly bereft of interesting drama beyond a single incident in high school when he slipped on some grass and damaged a very valuable sousaphone while trying to please his marching band instructor. To correct this, he took up writing and kept writing until he got halfway decent at it.
Currently laboring on works spanning science fiction, fantasy and all the bizarre fusions in between, David is publishing novels and short stories through Thinking Ink Press and Fiction Silicon Valley.