It is 11:46 p.m. on Thursday evening before the beginning of Black History Month. I sit at the wooden desk my partner and I finished building just a day ago. As I write this, I acknowledge that just a day ago feels like a month has passed me by. We are still getting settled into our new house. Boxes surround us; however, in little corners, we try to create a semblance of balance, something that feels like home even amidst the constant pull of work. In front of me is the beginning of my altar and I recognize it is one of the few things that has brought me joy after this very long day. The ability to look up and see the flicker of candlelight, the remembrance of my ancestors, the fullness of me. This is my moment of rest. But this rest didn’t come until now. Until, at 11:58 p.m. I made a conscious decision to look away from the light of the computer screen, if only for a second.
On Jan, 4, 2021 many of the staff and faculty at NC State arrived back at the university after a winter break. On Jan. 19, the students arrived. Many of us have at least one thing in common: we were and are tired. In the year 2020, we fought for so much, and much of it was tied to our livelihoods, our aliveness threatened by a virus, loss of employment, and brutal racism to name a few. The emotional and mental toll of these factors alone is enough to call forward a need for rest, but instead, some of us leaned in and the hustle began to grind into us. The hustle has begun to grind into me.
I write and speak honestly of my own positionality because it is important as I assert the Black History Month theme, Rest Is Our Liberation. This morning I read a tweet shared by Ericka Hart, but written by @stefkaufman which stated,
“People are ‘breaking’ down. Losing it. Losing people. One trauma after another after another. No breaks, no pause, no time to grieve or reflect. Mostly everyone I know is crashing. This is sad, unsustainable, + the impacts will be with us for years to come.”
The impact of this message was monumental, and all day I felt the weight of grinding for the creation of liberation-seeking work for others that lately have withheld my own feelings of freedom. When former Multicultural Student Affairs colleague and present friend, Leah Young, and I themed this Black History Month, Rest Is Our Liberation, we recognized there was a need to call forward, again, the revolutionary action of preserving the self, centering the self, and pouring holistically into one’s self as an act of rebellion and freedom. We recognized that self-love, especially for Black folx, was an act of resistance in a world that dehumanizes Blackness unless Blackness is producing for capitalistic consumption. We recognized that too many of us forget to rest, even as we create rest for others.
We conceptualize rest, here, as the physical form of rest, but also as the act of challenging ourselves to let go of supremacist beliefs that make us feel unworthy of rest. Rest is unearthing and unpacking. Rest is emotional release and vulnerability. It is the anger, the sadness, the joy and the pleasure. Rest is giving your mind, body and spirit what it needs. It is allowing yourself to feel what you feel. Rest is letting someone else take the lead and rest is picking up the charge when you are at your fullest. Rest is sharing the work and rest is, when you are able, allowing yourself to do no work. Rest is ritual and preservation. It is inviting newness into your life, and rest is finding comfort in the goodness that surrounds you, even if only in a little corner.
This Black History Month the African American Cultural Center and Multicultural Student Affairs want you to find rest. We know it won’t be easy. But we also believe rest is grace for the journey. It requires honesty and compassion and sometimes simple things like turning off your camera on the Zoom, prayer and/or affirmation when you feel something rising up, or maybe just taking exactly what you want or need in ways that do not oppress others.
We hope you join us in this month of rest, but more so, we hope that you honor your needs for rest. We have planned programs that center on the multiple ways rest can be our liberation. If you join us, we cannot wait to rest alongside you. If you can’t make it, we’ll assume you are taking what you need for a more abundant living. Maybe we’ll see you there, maybe you’ll be napping.
For more information on Black History Month: Rest Is Our Liberation visit go.ncsu.edu/bhm
angela gay-audre (she/they)
Director, African American Cultural Center
Join Us for the Annual Blacks in Wax Live Museum
This Black History Month, the African American Cultural Center reimagines its signature program, Blacks in Wax, for the virtual landscape. On Feb. 13 and 14, 2021, we will host Blacks in Wax Weekend, an exploration of Black culture, joy, history and presence. We will tell the untold stories of Blackness as well as sit in community with one another to tell our own stories of Blackness. One thing we assert is that Black history is evidence of Black futures.
- Subscribe to the AACC newsletter to receive updates.