Celebrating Black History Month: Celebrating Black Rest

By Malu Fairley-Collins

Our radical imagination is a tool for decolonization, for reclaiming our right to shape our lived reality.

— Adrienne Maree Brown

My rest as a Black woman in America suffering from generational exhaustion and racial trauma always was a political refusal and social justice uprising within my body. I took to rest and naps and slowing down as a way to save my life, resist the systems telling me to do more and most importantly as a remembrance to my Ancestors who had their DreamSpace stolen from them.

Your faithful Nap Bishop,

Tricia Hersey

I didn’t set a single New Year’s Resolution for 2023. In fact, throughout the month of December 2022, any time that I attempted to brainstorm resolutions my head hurt and I felt anxious. One evening I was scrolling through Instagram when I stumbled upon a clip of actor, write & producer Quinta Brunson being interviewed on late night TV. The hosts named all her amazing accomplishments in 2022 which included winning an Emmy for outstanding writing of a comedy, Abbott Elementary. He then asks what she will do in 2023, implying that she needs to do more. Her answer stunned me in the best possible way. “No” she stated “My plan is to do less and let folx rest a bit!!” It was then that I realized the gift of my intuitive resistance to resolutions. Resolutions start from a place of what is broken, what is less than, and what needs to be changed so that I can be a better person. 

This framework is deeply rooted in capitalism, racism, and a skewed understanding of the puritanical work ethic which indoctrinates us to believe that our worth is tied to our productivity. We must always be doing more, finding new means of income, working on ourselves, trying to get healthier (ableism), etc. It becomes a never-ending hamster wheel of work, stress and scarcity based thinking. No longer am I interested in constantly judging myself, worrying about whether I am working/vocationing enough or meeting some internalized oppression standards of being good enough. I am no longer interested in being the epitome of the strong Black woman, or as Zora Neal Hurston said “the mule of the world.” I am done! 

This year my intention is to create a new relationship with rest and leisure. This is such a radical concept for me that naming it aloud makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. It is as if I am already bracing for the backlash that comes from a queer, gender-queer fem, fat, black, afab* choosing their own peace, joy, rest and pleasure. I choose courage and community. My guides on this journey thus far are several profound writer-scholar-activists adrienne maree brown author of Pleasure Activism, Sonia Renee Taylor author of This Body is not an Apology, Tricia Hersey author of Rest is Resistance and Prentis Hemphill co-founder of The Embodiment Institute. My Alliance community, I invite you to join me on this journey especially if you are Black or a member of an oppressed group. We deserve and require softness, ease, pleasure and rejuvenating rest. 

*assigned female at birth 

Malu Fairley-Collins (she/they) joined the Alliance community in 2010. They have been recognized as clergy and endorsed by the Alliance since 2012. Within the Alliance they have served in several capacities including the Covenant Mission Statement Revisioning Team, the Racial Justice Task Group/Implementation Group and on the board. Malu is a board certified chaplain and an ACPE Certified Educator. She has an MDiv from Candler School of Theology of Emory University and a BA from Spelman College. Malu is happily married to Ezra Fairley-Collins (he/his) and resides with her family in Charlotte NC, where they enjoy time in nature, hanging out with friends and serving on a local non-profit board.

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