Thank you, Bambara! Black women deserve naps

During the pandemic, I’ve had to be intentional about my time. The clock is irrelevant. What I mean is the time I allow myself to rest. Like most folks (unfortunately not black folks), I’ve had the privilege of being able to enjoy work from home. It is a struggle to find the energy day-to-day to get myself up, dressed, and ready for the long haul of zoom. Somewhere I got lost between my pajamas and sweatshirts, and the necessary movements for the rights and lives of those that look like me. I felt like a kid watching from the window, hopelessly giving money to organizations and trying to do my part in my various virtual spaces. I’m a Black woman co-leading my community around Blackness, equity, and accountability in academia and the healthcare field. The murder of Breonna Taylor, a little over a year ago, continues to haunt the movement that I want to have. Intentional, purposeful movement. Toni Cade Bambara, renowned Black womanist literary author, social activist, and academic, reminds me that “not all speed is movement”. To my Black, Indigenous, and women of color. To my trans women and femme sisters. To those that are within the movement, leading it, or being a disruptor of oppressive systems I give you permission to sit. Calculate, be intentional, lean on your community, coalition build, and determine your battles. Be intentional about your mental and emotional space. REST sis!. You have the right and authority over how much space you allow something or someone to take up. 

Black folks experience early health deterioration.

We disowner ourselves when we allow this feeling of “not doing enough” to creep in. A great example, I always find myself in most spaces being the voice for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a Black scholar, I get to read the research on Black women and ‘weathering’. You’ve heard of “Black don’t crack”? Well, it’s kind of false. Yes, you most often can’t tell (or ask) a Black woman’s age, however, Black folks experience early health deterioration. These health conditions we know too well in our family – high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Why? Because we experience racism and other acute and chronic stressors that are more prevalent to Black people. So we have to ask why is constant movement, running ourselves, and being obsessively part of EVERYTHING part of our narrative. Systemic racism. Our bodies are fundamentally part of our capitalist society until it was no longer able to be profited from. Still, to this day our position in this country requires us to be available and grateful to be here. So ask yourself, what room do I make for myself to experience joy, relaxation, healing, and honoring the experiences I’ve had. Have there been any physical changes to my body that are unexplainable? Do I have to be that voice for DEI? For me, I say no. I choose when and how to use my voice. The time it takes to put on that presentation doesn’t equate to the hours it takes me to decompress from the emotional labor and tension I feel before, during, and after. 

What can you do?

Breathe, stretch, shake and let it go. Mase was trying to tell us something in his 2004 hit. If you’re spiritual write out your prayers and requests, but make sure to act. Even if you are restrictive in your movement, pausing during the day for 5 – 10 minutes for a stretch or breathing exercises. It will help you in the long run. If money is tight, you can write, connect with local or virtual groups, or make a sugar scrub for a good facial. We buy into this narrative that I have buy or plan in advance to relax. Don’t let time pass and don’t wait for that vacation time to tend to your needs. I will give you this last gem. Think about what you determine as movement and why? What are you trying to gain? What is the result you are looking for? Are there alternatives? Because I’ll tell you what, sitting to strengthen my mind and spirit is the best movement I can give my body. I know if I dropped today, I will be replaced. So take that time away and love on yourself. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to do so. 

Black Womanist who loves naps

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