A Rest Manifesto – For Breonna Taylor, and Those That Hoped

I’m enraged, too.

I’m saddened, too.

I’m still looking outward, looking for the helpers, looking to be a helper.

I was reading the mission of Black Dream Escape and I saw these lines:

“We educate individuals and the wider ethos about the overdue sleep and rest debt that Black and Indigenous people have been forced to accumulate.”

I also think of Toni Morrison’s quote:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

The lines echoed in my mind when I first heard them. Forced to accumulate. We have been abused and brutalized, generation after generation. The ones of us who were fortunate enough to be born into slightly better days have been gaslighted. There was never a problem. Comply and you won’t get hurt. Keep your eyes down. What did you say to me, boy? You made me do this.

We have had our rest, our peace of mind taken from us. And then we were told that it was our fault.

Well, I’m tired of being tired. I’ll work as hard as I am able that day, each day, at my job. I will support justice fighters. I will seek truth in conversations, the way that I know how. I will build what bridges I can and walk away when I must.

Then I will rest. I will enjoy what there is to be grateful for. And I will not apologize or be ashamed.

We lovingly say to our elder heroes when they die, “Take your rest.” Well, I say it as a revolutionary call as loud as “Black Lives Matter”.

“Take Your Rest!”

Take it! You have earned it by reaching the end of this day. You have earned the right to rest by being a human being. And we will fight until we have a society that recognizes the humanity of all of us enough to allow us that healthy, human cycle of unblocked work and uninterrupted rest.

I will not wait to die to take my rest. I’m going to listen to the Black women that have held this thing together for us and for the rest of y’all. That delightfully unbothered woman smoking a cigarette in front of a brutal racist cop. That face that is short on wrinkles and stress. That’s not just confidence or melanin. That’s a concerted and deliberate decision. That’s understanding how to carry only a weight that belongs to you, not one put on your back by someone else. That’s a damn way of life.

And I know it is far, far from easy. Don’t misread me. The work required and too often the suffering required to learn that is not a just thing, not something to be celebrated or perversely admired. But from having had more on my plate than I could possibly handle for decades, I understand something about what it is to do what you can, and surrender the rest to God. And in that surrender lies our rest.

Reclaiming. My. Time.

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