Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto is a great follow up read to The 1619 Project. I started following Tricia Hersey’s The Nap Ministry in 2017 on Twitter and later on Instagram. I hope this book is read widely and deeply because it could be life saving. It’s the kind of book that people put on their TBR because it seems like an important book, and then they never read it, or read it years later, or pretend they read it. But really, just read it now. Request it from your library or buy it, read it.
I should note upfront that as a white woman and atheist from the South, my relationship with Tricia Hersey’s manifesto is a little complex. She isn’t really talking to me, and I’m not going to claim the same oppression or generational trauma. When she talks about what was stolen from her ancestors, I am aware that my ancestors enforced that theft. But I would also like to be liberated from capitalism and white supremacy, and Rest is Resistance is an essential piece to doing the work of that liberation.
I would also like to note that while I’m writing this I’m wearing a t-shirt that has text on it reading “I’m fine” and then graphics that make it look like a bite has been taken out of my side. A friend gave it to me because when one of us says “I’m fine” we both laugh because we are not fine. I think most of us are not fine. Why are we living lives where insisting we are fine when we are not is so pervasive there are multiple joke t-shirts? I am tired of not being fine and knowing my friends are also not fine and that it’s a state that will last until we die – probably of not being fine. Long term stress is a killer, poverty is a killer, being an oppressed minority is a killer.
In med school, I took an elective called "Stress", foolishly thinking I was going to learn about meditation and yoga. Instead the professor spent 6 weeks proving that being poor or a minority literally destroys your health on a molecular level, and I think about that every day.
— Jocelyn J. Fitzgerald MD (@jfitzgeraldMD) May 10, 2020
Hersey breaks the book into 4 sections: Rest, Dream, Resist, and Imagine. In each section she describes the ways in which rest, dreaming, resistance and imagination are tools of liberation. Capitalism and white supremacy are not systems that will be overthrown with violence (though they are regularly enforced with violence), but with unlearning. In resting we learn to listen to our bodies and what they need. I love that Hersey deliberately refuses to provide a concise 10 point plan to resistance. She’s offering guided meditations and the tools for us to unlock ourselves.
One of the reasons I am so glad Hersey wrote Rest is Resistance is it documents her process and she grounds her work in the work of other Black thinkers and writers. In doing this she resists the co-option of her work by capitalism (see the commodification of self-care and well, everything) and by white people (see also, Tangerine Jones’ Rage Baking co-opted by Katherine Alford and Kathy Gunst).
Buy the book. Take a nap. Stop calling the cops on Black people sleeping.