– 13 –


The bass, the relentless bass, boomed louder, deeper, stronger than ever as it reverberated through the newsroom. The walls quivered and so did Mackenzie.

She tried to talk, tried to shout, but the bass drowned her out. The other newsroom women were gone. The white guys seemed strangely oblivious to her and everything else, even the bass. Was Mackenzie the only one who heard it? Her body felt sluggish, as if she was moving in slow motion. Meanwhile new work kept rushing in, faster than she could assign it to the white guys. Urgent, top-priority dispatches brought in up-to-the-second reports about the Prime Minister’s Wife, the Holocaust, the glass ceiling, hate crimes and Smith.

Then the relentless, monotonous bass suddenly rumbled to a climax and the wall, the barrier between the two sections of the current Toronto Star building, collapsed in a pile of bricks.

And there they were. Blacks.

Mackenzie wanted to run. But her body froze. Her body froze stiff, paralyzed. She couldn’t move yet her thoughts raced. Surely they wouldn’t... Surely they wouldn’t do it to her. Not her. She had been lynched herself. Holocausted. Had her land stolen. Forced to speak English. Stuck in a closet. Sentenced to slavery on the cotton plantations of southern Ontario. She was one of them. She was a middle class Canadian white woman. Surely they wouldn’t... Surely they wouldn’t make Mackenzie Taylor Mitchell prove she’s not racist.

Then, like an alarm wailing high above the relentless bass, came the piercing sound of the CJC ring tone. It stopped abruptly, replaced by a tinny but loud, mocking voice that scorned her from her cellphone: “No TV for you, Mackenzie. No TV for you, Mackenzie. No TV for...”

Mackenzie woke up. She was soaked in sweat but, it took a moment to realize, safe. Her bedroom was silent, the security monitor showed no sign of intrusion. Barred windows, iron doors, steel gates and armed guards kept her home and the entire neighbourhood safe. It was all just a dream, just a bad dream, a very bad dream. But Mackenzie was brave, tough, resilient. She would continue to fight the vast, oppressive power structure represented by white guys.

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