Day 27 - 28 Love Letters to Black Women
This Black History Month, I am sharing 28 stories of Black women who shaped me and showed me the way towards liberation. Because Black women are often not cited for their ideas, I thought this would be one way to give flowers to those who influenced me.
On Day 27, I would like to celebrate author and activist Tricia Hersey, whose work through the Nap Ministry has helped me disrupt my own relationship with working and embrace Rest as Resistance.
Tricia Hersey is the Bishop of the Nap Ministry, where she has been sparking a movement to encourage people to rest as a form of resistance against oppressive systems and extractive capitalism. She also sees rest as a form of reparations. In her new book, Rest is Resistance, Tricia says, ‘For Black people who are descendants of enslaved Africans via the Transatlantic Slave Trade and chattel slavery, consider the fact that your ancestors built this entire nation for free with their stolen labor. Use this knowledge to tap into what they have already done, so that you don't have to grind yourself into oblivion now. Your ancestors want to make space for your ease and rest.”
Tricia’s work has inspired me to do my own work to resist overworking, something I’ve done my entire career. When I attended a session about how to become a pro-Black organization, the facilitators shared that requiring Black women to over-labor was a form of anti-Blackness that shows up in many organizations and has origins in slavery. When I heard that I felt like someone had punched me in my gut. One way I tried to prove my worth was to work harder and better than everyone else. My parents and elders had taught me that I had to ‘work twice as hard to get half as much.’ After attending this session, I realized this mantra was not serving me. As Malcolm X said, I was being bamboozled. Tricia Hersey’s work to encourage people to “unravel” has helped me to unlearn these messages about over-laboring. It means learning to set boundaries about my volume of work. It means being deliberate about infusing rest into my work cycles. It means learning to say no to clients, and learning to resist urgency that creates feelings of scarcity. My journey hasn’t been perfect - I sometimes back slide and say yes to things that I shouldn’t. But Tricia’s constant refrain about rest being my birth right reminds me that I deserve rest and I deserve care. And I don’t have to “earn it.”
As Tricia tells us, “We can build rest, and usher in a new way that centers liberation and care no matter what the systems continue to do. Rest is a portal. Silence is a pillow. Sabbath our lifeline. Pausing our compass. Go get your healing. Be disruptive. Push back. Slow down. Take a nap.”
Photo credit: Momodu Mansaray licensed from Getty Images
Image Description: Picture of Tricia smiling. She is wearing a brown jacket, black shirt, and gold hoop earrings.