Black sleep matters
Teen Vogue magazine recently published an article by two writers who are calling for "rest reparations" in addition to the regular, old, garden-variety reparations for African-Americans, which advocates have been advocating for years. Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa contend that, on average, Black lives are shorter than white ones because Black people experience "generational fatigue" due solely to the fact that they are, in fact, Black.
The two allege that "the American dream is a sleepless one" for Black folks, and claim to have had an epiphany when they realized the reason they were always tired was because they were impacted by "hundreds of years of sleep deprivation" that was due to systemic racism. Their article, titled "Black Power Naps is Addressing Systemic Racism in Sleep," reveals the Black Power Naps initiative, which purports to be an "artistic initiative with components including physical installations, zines, an opera, and more." Huh?
Acosta told the magazine that black people and other nonwhite people inherited sleep deprivation through years of slavery and control, saying, "We're dealing with an inheritance of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation was a ... deliberate tactic of slave owners to basically make the mind feeble. That same tactic has only evolved." Huh?
Sosa insisted that generations of slavery have made it imperative for Black people and other nonwhite people to rest as much as they can in the following generations. I've read that it isn't really possible for one person to "catch up on sleep" in his own lifetime, so I seriously doubt one could "catch up on sleep" that one's great-great-great-great grandfather was deprived of. Acosta, Sosa, and other activists are calling for rest reparations in the form of longer breaks, sabbaticals, and time off from work and other strenuous activities. They claim that Black Power Naps is also "a way to push back against the false stereotype that black people are lazy." Yes, asking for more breaks, time off, and naptime at work will certainly help dispel that false notion.
The drowsy duo add that it is imperative that Black people and other nonwhite people be allowed to dream properly, noting, "The dream space is a crucial space to make sense of your reality and properly process the violence that may be happening." Apparently, I, too, need more sleep, because I'm having difficulty making sense of reality right now.
Sosa also complained that it's unfair that Black people and other nonwhite people have to go out amid a global pandemic to demand rest reparations, as this just makes them suffer from even greater exhaustion. She whined:
We are having to go out in the streets during a pandemic, expending our energy in really huge amounts in order to ask for reparations and rest and energy. It is a .... double-edged sword to navigate as an activist or organizer. You are putting your body on the line to reclaim it. That creates a lot of burnout. We have people who are 20, 21, they are burnt out. They need time off. They need to not only sleep, but to know their people are going to be OK, to know they're going to be OK, to know they can take a break.
Give us a break.
Soon we will see mattress outlets with "Black Sleep Matters" signs in their windows. Ads will appear for a "My Black Pillow." Perhaps a Black Sleep Squadron will be created to enforce the new rest reparations.
Graphic credit: openicons, Pixabay license.