“Time, as we know it, is a colonial invention and forms the backbone of American society, making the racial distribution of time inherent to white privilege. As whiteness dictates freedom, education, pleasure, and social mobility, have you ever wondered why so many of those considered to be our “greatest” artists or philosophers are white men? Who among us has the access to time to make “masterpieces” or to “think,” without dealing with the impacts of oppression? Racism robs us of our time to be creative, to dream or simply be. In addition, Black people are both disproportionately incarcerated and expelled from schools in the United States and many other Western countries. If Black children were given the same amount of time as their white peers to remain in education, this would disrupt the “school-to-prison-pipeline,” a phenomenon that disproportionately affects Black youth. Our dreams are constantly deferred.
By inviting Black people to stop and rest, Black Power Naps begins to let us reclaim our time. And, in doing so, it restores our capacity to dream as Black people—to imagine a future of Black rest, relaxation, and idleness.
When was the last time you enabled Black people to rest?”
I've spent several months wrestling with the fracturing of a friendship and working relationship that capstoned in plagiarism. It's been several months of making attempts - behind the scenes - to express my thoughts & feelings. I strained to be thoughtful, forthright, kind, and considerate when engaging our relationship, but when I came to her about her plagiarism - with receipts at the ready - I had the digital equivalent of the door slammed in my face.
It took almost a month of introspection, working with my therapist, and otherwise processing to get to a place where I felt I could publicly disclose what happened, why I was sharing, and to post the domain names I purchased to indirectly but clearly identify the person as well as show the receipts of my claim: thegoodancestorpodcast.com & goodancestorpodcast.com.
Then I read this piece - linked above - from Janine Francois for Broadly.
Part of why I had such a hard time with these recent interpersonal-meets-professional shenanigans is because I do not have structural supports that provide me with the benefits of deep rest. Everything has been on my back and shoulders since I was a very young child - I have had to push and crawl through one thing after another. But I survive because of the disproportionate wherewithal the constellation of my self contains within it. The constant, violent churning and furiously swimming into and against it became a central part of how I learned to relate to and experience myself as a person.
And as I said to Natha Perkins Campanella (I was a guest on her podcast, by the way) the other day: I am grateful for my Plutonian and Saturnine depths and immensity. I wield and can carry a tremendous amount of power and that, in this society and in this body, is exceptionally painful some days. It's dehydrated my bones and emptied them of their marrow. It makes me porous and fragile. It makes me delicate, vulnerable, and requiring greater and greater amounts of softness and gentleness. I feel like we make the assumption that softness and gentleness mean being walked over and having no boundaries, but the reality is, neither of those states preclude the presence of being insistent, specific, or principled about your boundaries, wants, or expectations.
The thing that has stood out to me the most since October and my diagnosis of MS to go along with my PCOS, is just how much overcompensating and leaning on the sheer will - which, make no mistake, is magic in its most essential and pure form - has made me deeply tired. How much it fed my sense of brokenness, and created the restlessness in me that prompted me to engage life and pain in ways that have amplified that distress. Because no one until recently ever showed or affirmed to me that I had value unless I was screaming in pain or blurting out the pains I held within late at night, half-awake and sleep deprived, because I couldn't bear the enormity of not feeling wanted, seen, or cared for - or able to access and accept without any guilt or internal harshness - by anyone, not even myself.
For years all I've been saying is, "I'm so tired. I'm so, so tired." and literally sobbing in people's arms in private because the weariness seeped into every single layer of my beingness.
"I'm so tired, I don't know why I'm so tired."
"It hurts so badly, but I can't stop. I must keep going."
"I cannot rest." was actually, "I'm afraid of resting."
I was trying to survive, and slowly torturing myself to death in the process.
Because if I rest, that means I have to trust that I am worthwhile without pain or suffering. That I am just as important and loveable when I'm quiet and comfortable as I am when I'm loud and pushing myself. Because rest means confronting the fear hardwired into my system of being assaulted in the night, and dreaming of ugly things that are real and actively in the world, not just odd creatures that lurk out of sight.
It meant accepting that I'm human - really, really, really human. And in my body and its experiences, in this world at this time, if you live and breathe with that primordial, abiding sense of your own humanity, you are dangerous and a threat. Every time I've dealt with abuse and violation, it was always particularly more acute and painful when I fought back from that place.
I am choosing rest and gentleness.
I will blast a hole in the fabric of the Universe to carve out space for my the sheer voluminous wonder of luxuriating in my bigness just because.
I will firmly pursue and receive every last ounce of love, support, and resource I need to accomodate this nest of sleep and tenderness.
I will move at my own damn pace.
I will do none of this at the expense of integrity, or my core guiding aspirations of truth, justice, and liberation. Because rest and gentleness are integral to all of those things, they are their deepest, most nourishing roots.
I'm not going to wait for society to give me permission to be idle, nor am I going to entertain that I somehow have to prove to that I'm entitled to time and space to think and create, trying to create holodecks in my head of land and time where my oppressors have melted into history and their scars are only artificial now.
There is nothing but misery waiting for me in sitting here, ill at ease, waiting for a sign that says, "You can relax now."
Sleep means trusting that there is a tomorrow -- and I do, because I must for the sake of Black joy, Black reconciliation, Black art, and Black rest.