EDIC presents workshop on ‘Rest as Resistance’

Associate Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance Rachel Sawyer-Walker, along with Counseling Services, hosted “Rest as Resistance: Part 1” on Tuesday, the latest of EDIC’s programs for Black History Month. The event was a workshop centered around topics from the book “Rest as Resistance: A Manifesto” by Tricia Hersey and took an intersectional approach to learning how to rest without feeling guilty.

Hersey is the founder of The Nap Ministry, an organization that examines the liberating power of naps. The Nap Ministry examines rest as a radical tool for community healing and names sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue. Hersey’s book condemns grind culture and capitalism as elements of white supremacy and The Nap Ministry views rest as a right, not a privilege, which is a quote Sawyer-Walker came back to multiple times during the discussion.

Sawyer-Walker entwined personal insights with the book’s messages. Photo by Matthew Wikfors.

“I follow them on Instagram and they always just say ‘take a nap.’ And, oh my gosh, like, that is so crazy that someone is saying to take a nap, right?” Sawyer-Walker said when giving context about the book. “This is probably one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot.”

She said the book reframed how people should look at rest and “not see it from a place of shame or guilt.”

The discussion began with a brief meditation session using Hersey’s meditation track “Rest Life.” The attendees discussed the unique sound of the track, which combined a low-fi type of beat with positive affirmations. Responses ranged from how the visualization element was interesting to how Hersey seems to disrupt what we perceive meditation to be like.

“So, I challenge you all to think about, like, what does meditation look like for you?” Sawyer-Walker said.

She transitioned into the poem “won’t you celebrate with me” by Black poet Lucille Clifton and shifted the conversation towards the book. The structure of the presentation involved breaking down various quotes from the book and what they mean to attendees. The first two quotes involved wishing one rest and to resist “anything that doesn’t center your divinity as a human being” and how capitalism and grind culture leave us disconnected and exhausted.

Some important points that came up in the discussion involved expectations and perceptions. One of the attendees, Elena Yee of Counseling Services, spoke about the struggle between real expectations and perceived expectations during her undergraduate education. Sawyer-Walker added that Hersey spoke about creating The Nap Ministry while working as an educator, which is ironic as academia “is probably one of the worst spaces to find grind culture.”

“Rest is not a privilege, it is a human right to be able to rest. And I think a lot of us are conditioned to believe that it’s work, work, work, work and then we get to rest,” Sawyer-Walker said. She then played a clip of Kyla Jenee Lacey’s poem “White Privilege” to go more into a historical context of thinking about rest from the perspective of the Black community.

The video was short, only three minutes, but it broke down many of the systems of oppression in society for the attendees, leading to a discussion on capitalism and white supremacy being harmful to everyone, not just the Black community.

That discussion included breaking down the four tenets of The Nap Ministry. The first tenet is that rest is a form of resistance and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy. The other tenets are how our bodies are a site of liberation, naps provide a portal to imagine and heal and that our DreamSpace has been stolen and we must reclaim it and our rest.

“Keep repeating to yourself: I am enough now,” Sawyer-Walker said, quoting the book.

The tenets were broken down further, leading to a variety of discussion, like attendees’ dreams and if they daydream, ground-up and bottom-down discussion on capitalism and wages, using rest to heal and how grief is harmful for grind culture because having the time to grieve leads to self-reflections and realizations.

The event ended with a reminder of the second part of the event coming up on March 1 at 12:30 p.m. Using the framework from this discussion, it will involve taking a nap in the new Multicultural Center, which opens on Feb. 22. “Rest as Resistance: Part 2” will be the first event to take place there and blankets with the Multicultural Center logo will be provided to attendees on a first-come first-serve basis.



Featured photo by Matthew Wikfors