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Young African woman sleeping in bed

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Rest is the vital nutrient for our liberation as Black Americans. (I must preface that the term “Black” is a political designation and those who carry this were not the deciding people. Our natural birthright is Sovereign Indigenous People. So as I make reference to “Black” people throughout this article, I am referring to the political designation that we’ve been coerced into, not who we are in our truest form.) These unprecedented times and upheaval are not for us to fix. Black Americans are the pillars for this country. Yet, we are perpetually denied the benefits and pleasures of any gains this country has made. This is all intentional. We are continually placed in positions to be the primary producers for all others to benefit from. No other group of people knows this as well as Black women.

Centuries of manufactured oppression of Black American women confirms why our rest is paramount. It is uncommon to solely discuss the needs of Black women, yet it is notable and requires reverence. Black American women have built and paid taxes since oppression was devised in this country, without relief. In fact, we have always been the main contributors to the work of our households, of our spouses, of those that used to own us, and of those we work for today. My grandmother, who was an incredible storyteller, shared a story that her grandmother worked in the homes of white families and if her husband did not complete his work in the fields, she was responsible for picking up his slack. If we fast-forward to the present day, not much has changed. We need relief and we need rest. It is urgent that we make this our priority. I express compassionate care to Black Women experiencing “voicelessness” and in life-threatening situations who may not currently have access to the opportunity to rest.

What does “rest” mean? Rest means to turn off the mind, relaxing into nothingness. This means to lay down all responsibilities to be present in the moment. It is being still with self, allowing the body to rejuvenate. We are now afforded wondrous opportunities, many in which our grandmothers and mothers were not. We now indulge in contemporary luxuries such as spa treatments, salon services, extravagant vacations, etc. Yet, the experience of rest is much deeper.

How often do you desire to nap or rest during the afternoon or weekend? You may consider rest, but your mind tells you, you can’t do that. It may sound like, I still have to do some laundry. Did I remember to sweep/mop? Did I send out the emails? Did I call my mother, friend, lover, sibling, or any other important person in my life? Did I make sure that my spouse/partner, child, or parent handled some important business? How often do these thoughts get in your way before you allow yourself time to rest? How often do you tell yourself that it can wait? Have you ever given yourself permission to simply not do it, whatever it is? Even while vacationing, we busy ourselves instead of being present in the moment.

When we actually decide to rest, we often find ways to deny or sabotage this choice. It is done by overworking, overthinking, over-analyzing, over-giving, and keeping busy. This is unconscious neglect of our bodies. Desiring to or even speaking of rest tends to be judged as lazy, unmotivated, weak, or unambitious. Know this, being busy does not equate to being smart. Consider checking the origin of these beliefs. These onerous ideas are centuries of duress stored in our DNA’s memory. We can now go within to heal this for our own liberation.

Black women are usually managers of the home, the sole or main breadwinners, and primary childcare providers. We are the main supporters and builders of our community resources and networks, from the church to the community centers. Despite all that we do and how we give, collectively, we hold the belief that it’s still not enough. Historical evidence proves Black women’s work ethic is immeasurable. According to statistical data quoted in Resolving R.A.P.E Culture, “in 1880, just 15 years after forced free labor, 35% of married Black women and 73% of single Black women were in the labor force compared to only 7% of married white women and 24% of single white women.” Much of our Black families’ financial stability relies on that of the Black woman’s income even though, in the past, our median wealth has been $100 to the more than $40,000 of that of white women. Yet a commonly held belief is that Black women are to be used as instruments of production and extraction. We still judge Black women as “lazy” and some of us, sadly, still believe that we are. With all the facts demonstrated, the myth that Black women must be “strong” is not a badge of honor.

Without rest, you run the risk of dehydration, exhaustion, and the onset of major health challenges, including mental health imbalances. Recent health trends show that stroke cases are on the rise among Black women between the ages of 40 and 52. It is also proven that hypertension, a major health risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, is largely responsible for the excess morbidity and mortality among Black women. The simple yet powerful remedy for prevention is to rest. Whenever we receive treatments or medical advice from doctors, included in their treatment plan is rest.

When we are fully rested, we can experience true fulfillment. We live in greater awareness, clarity, and firm decision-making. Rest is healing and brings balance to our minds and bodies, healing the central nervous system — the vital system that controls our awareness, movements, emotions, thoughts, desires, and heart rate.

Our days and tasks are jammed packed, yet there is still time in the day that is exclusively for you. Oftentimes, when there is a consistent pattern of overbooking and overcommitting, it means we have extended beyond what we can actually give. Of course, these patterns and behaviors ignite the belief of “not having enough time for myself.” Rest is the radical act of resistance that our bodies and souls are urging us to indulge in. This is the ultimate demonstration of truly loving who we are at our core. I urge you to now embody the truth that rest is not a luxury but a necessity for your life.

Reclaim your power through rest. Start a rest practice by making agreements with yourself to relax throughout the day and commit to it. If this is new, allow yourself time to do so in small increments. You may choose to set a timer for yourself. Schedule naps throughout the day. Remember to take a break after those meetings. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes. Silence is an ancient practice that is still relevant today and can be found in sacred text. Elevate your feet above your heart for 10 minutes. Engaging in a practice of breathwork is also important. Turn on some meditation music. This will help to quiet the noise in your mind that makes you feel guilty about resting. There’s many meditation sounds on YouTube. Singing bowls are amazing as they have healed me through some extremely tough periods in my life. Use what works best with your spirit. Remember to drink water throughout the day. It cleanses and centers your body and helps to clear the chatter in your mind when you are choosing to rest.

Black women are pure brilliance and genius. We work exorbitant hours for our jobs along with our businesses and side hustles. Even with this, statistically, we are still excluded from equitable material comforts compared to other groups. Dear Sister, rest to tap into your superpower! Everyone knows that we are the magic. We are the needle that carries the thread that binds the fabric of humanity together. All other groups of people know this about us yet they do nothing to support our liberation. They depend on us remaining busy for perpetual extraction. It is time to choose you! I encourage each of us to divest our energy from those things, situations, people etc. that do not charge and enrich our lives. Stay home and take those much-needed naps. Connect with your heart to know your truth and purpose. Practice self-preservation. Protect your peace. Detox from all media forms and outlets. Breathe deeply. Connect with your ancestors, ask them to guide you on your right path. Remember, some have gone through oppression and have the remedy to liberate you from it. We have a right to rest and we owe this to ourselves. Allow yourself to indulge in the pleasure of rest. It will fill you with the energy and momentum to do the things that you desire and serve those you are truly meant to serve. If you desire to live more succulently and gracefully, rest is your antidote.

LaToya Robinson is a Spiritual Strategist & Advisor who works with Black Women & Men and People of Color who are ready to discover and use their spiritual gifts to end over-functioning and transform their lives. Follow LaToya on Facebook at: LaToya Robinson Gholar and on Instagram @thespiritualgiftactivator. For more information email LaToya at: 

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