By Veracia Ankrah
Posted on November 19, 2021
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to prioritize rest? To truly bask in hours of uninterrupted bliss, void of school, work, interactions with family and friends, or the overwhelming wonders of tomorrow that cloud your mind? I can’t help but wonder all the time what that would be like, and then it came to me: I do not know what it feels like to not worry and enjoy rest. Then, in the thick of the pandemic and racial unrest, I discovered The Nap Ministry Twitter account, managed by a Black woman using the moniker “The Nap Bishop.” Through dedicated social media ministry, Nap Bishop’s ordained purpose is to preach rest as a form of resistance and reparations to the Black community while examining the liberating power of taking naps.
The Nap Bishop tweets almost matter-of-fact truths with humour that will leave you questioning whether or not you set time aside to recoup and makes it evident that Black people often neglect their wellness as a response to trauma. “Allowing and submitting to care is very important for our liberation as Black people. Our trauma has caused us to be afraid of getting close and asking for and allowing help. Please work deeply on your trauma so you can receive the blessing of being cared for,” a recent tweet reads. As a Black woman often tasked as the emotional martyr for Black people under the guise of a “strong Black woman,” you may feel the need to constantly put your needs to the side and overextend yourself for nearly everyone in your life. When you decide to finally prioritize your needs, you’ll likely meet resistance from others in exchange for your preservation—a triumph others rarely consider of collective benefit. As Black women athletes catapulted to stardom, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles’ temporary step back from their esteemed positions amassed all kinds of public vitriol.
In May 2021, tennis player Osaka withdrew from the French Open after receiving a $15,000 fine following her decision to disengage from press conferences, which she believes are exploitative, doubt-inducing and overall a deterrent to her mental health. Inspired by Osaka, during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from her team competition and all-around, a title she’s won back-to-back since 2013. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” the Olympian shared at a press conference. Discussions about mental health are at the forefront of popular discourse and with great reason, but the leeway afforded to others is not easily given to Black people, especially not Black women.
The world is not accustomed to viewing Black people as humans deserving of rest. We were taught to overachieve and outstand everyone else in nearly everything we take part in, whether it be work or play. This is a standard that young women like Osaka and Biles lived by to become some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen before the age of 25. Many others follow in their individual journeys, without a cushion of fame and fortune to fall back on. To emphasize Nap Bishop’s point, we all deserve grace and rest. “Be making celebration memes and writing think pieces when Naomi Osaka refuses grind culture, but mad when those around you do it and demand it,” she said. “Honor boundaries.”
The culture of constantly putting your body and brain on a hamster-wheel to hustle, hurrying and busying yourself to earn more money or prove you are worried about respect and honour is a losing battle. You will never reach a pinnacle of enough money or receive all the honorary accolades to feel fulfilled while neglecting your physical and mental well-being. Prioritizing rest is not a political statement or a luxury to enjoy once you’ve overworked but should become a normalized practice that you deserve for simply existing. In the spirit of Nap Bishop, take a nap you beautiful Black people, your personal and purposeful work for self and collective liberation will be there for you to pick back up in the morning. For now, rest. Your future depends on it.