Upon entering the factory, Rip was shocked to find a hive of industriousness and an oasis of relative peace and quiet. What was strangest of all was that the place was nearly entirely uniform in its whiteness. With the exception of what appeared to be guards, who dozed in the corners on chairs and lounges, their hats pulled over their eyes, everyone was white.
In the times before his great nap, such a monolithic racial makeup would have disconcerted Rip greatly, causing peptic guilt to burble in the back of his throat, his knees to knock with trepidation at the exposure to accusations of racism, and making him long for the deliverance his betters assured him only “diversity” could bring. Surely, he would say, so as to ingratiate himself to his superiors, lord himself over his inferiors, and inoculate himself against the dreaded r-word, this place was “too white”.
But now…now was a different time, and made for a different Rip. He found not fear in this roomful of whites, but rather relief; not disgust, but solace. How that flagon had changed him!
At the front of the factory floor, near the very “door” through which he entered, stood a giant statue of a man Rip knew all too well—Saint MLK. His arms crossed, he stared down sternly from his commanding height at the white workers below.
Observing this assortment of whites, with their widely diverse appearances—from redheads and blonds to brunettes and brown-haired; from blues eyes to green to hazel to gray; from short to tall, and slender to hulking; from merely comely to positively beautiful—Rip noticed their work was equally diverse: some toiled away making garments, while others were assembling cheap electronics, and still others wearing protective eyewear and gloves as they composited batteries. Some even pedaled away on what looked like exercise bikes attached to the generators left over from the factory’s operational days.
But not all was well, for he realized that the labor of the people did not appear to make them happy; rather, they looked decidedly tense in their affairs. Perhaps it was due to the proctors who paced around behind them, constantly haranguing them and denouncing them as sinners who must purge their original sin of white privilege by working solely for the benefit of the “eternally oppressed”; that they can only properly atone for their sins of racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and Islamophobia and nativism and xenophobia and genocide and slavery and colonialism—that they, and they alone!, were guilty of—by praying for the grace of Saint MLK to absolve them; that it was only right that they forfeit their children to The Indoctrinators so that they wouldn’t grow up to be the hate-filled bigots that their parents were; that they should be thankful they were allowed to lead the lives of slaves rather than be human sacrifices to god Diversity; and such things, and so forth.
The self-important white man with the cocked hat nudged Rip, knocking him out of his reverie, and pointed to a vacant seat behind a manual-powered sewing machine. “Do you know how to sew?”
Though advanced in age, and despite never having been exhibited prior—throughout all of Rip’s most miserable and dangerous encounters—his survival instincts finally kicked in; for, not having the slightest inkling as to how to operate the machine let alone sew, he responded without a moment’s hesitation: “Yes…yes, of course.”
“Then get to it,” said the self-important man, and, with that, departed.
Rip noticed a proctor looking in his direction, so before he could incur her wrath, he scrambled over to his seat at the sewing machine.
To be continued…