A Revolution of Rest: A Case For ‘Radical Renewal’

While I was brainstorming for this piece I found myself struggling to formulate something that hasn’t already been said about this moment of absolute turmoil. At first, I aimed to express something  profound, original… politically galvanizing even. But quite quickly, I stopped to ask myself, why? Why do I continually feel pressure to react in response to the continued devaluation of my life and the lives of my black identified loved ones?

As the internet continues to be laden with images of and testimonies about the quotidien violence inflicted on Black bodies, the enemy lines are being drawn. I feel there is constant pressure to prove you are on the right side. The most common way I have seen of displaying allegiance with Black lives is publicly reacting to these eruptions, especially via social media. But, as I wade through the grief I am inundated with each time I open my browser and inevitably witness another transgression against Black humanity, I wonder what the cost of this pressure to react is.

The reactions (op-eds, personal testimonies, think pieces, data based articles and so on) that flood my timeline in response to these acts of injustice do not do much to relieve the tension that emphatically courses through me. They do not prevent me from becoming a statistic. They do not bring back the dead. They do not prevent the inflating number of deaths taken at the hands of racism from continuing to grow. Thus, I wonder how this pressure to react to tragedy may pull me away from the increasingly urgent need to tend to myself, as this nation wages war (again) against everyone who even vaguely resembles me.

Thus, I have been interested in what happens ‘in the wake’[1] of witnessing acts of utter disregard for Black life, especially as someone who navigates the world within an embodied form that is coded ‘Black’. There seems to be no relief within the ceaseless stream of new instances of racial injustice to be upset about, and so I am motivated to create my own relief by way of what Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry calls ‘rest as reparations’.[2] She writes: “Our legacy is a legacy of exhaustion, rest is key to connecting to the wisdom of our ancestors and creating a new world. It is pushing back against white supremacy and capitalism.”

I believe that turning away from the pressure to react in order to allow for the emergence of a moment of radical renewal, of rest as reparations, is a revolutionary act too, for it creates space for me to sustain my well-being; As Audre Lorde wrote, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”[3]

Where is the space for renewal, which often necessitates silence and stillness, within a revolution? How can we balance the desire to react with the vital need to turn inward? I would argue that the time taken to renew the spirit must lay the groundwork for all that which comes after: attending the protest, confronting the racists, etc.

As such, I wonder what may be gained if instead of folding to the pressure to form an opinion, we cultivate the courage to turn inward and ask our spirits — what work do I need to do right now? The answer from within may be to write an article, to post on Instagram, to engage racist community members in a conversation or to attend a protest. But, I believe an equally acceptable response is to take a bath, to cleanse the spirit by sobbing uncontrollably or to lie in bed for as long as is needed to feel somewhat alive again.

Reflecting on Dr. Kevin Quashie’s allegory of blackness is helpful to consider here. Quashie writes that “quiet… is a metaphor for the full range of one’s inner life — one’s desires, ambitions, hungers, vulnerabilities, fears.”[4] One of my greatest challenges during this vexed moment has been holding onto the “quiet” within myself in the midst of the cyclone of noise and information that are being hurled at us every second, as well as the reductive conflation of blackness and militancy, which Dr. Quashie points to in his book as well. In the spirit of honoring the intellectual lineage I feel grateful to move within, I follow Audre Lorde’s and Kevin Quashie’s lead in saying that, to me, resistance looks like an embrace of the “quiet,” a leaning into and acceptance of my desire to rest in this moment.

So I ask you, dear readers, how can you make space for your inner life as the world crumbles around you? How can you move against the demand to say something… and towards the demands of your spirit in order to hold both together? How may you give yourself over to your inner wisdom… to the voice inside you that knows you cannot be on the front lines (literally or metaphorically) unless you also allocate a significant amount of time and energy to tending to your “quiet?”


[1] Christina Sharpe, In The Wake

[2] Sandra Garcia, Rest as Reparations: Using Self-Care to Heal Trauma

[3] Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light

[4] Kevin Quashie, The Sovereignty of Quiet


(This article was written by Camille Bacon ’21 for the CRSL social justice newsletter.)

Bio: Camille Bacon is an Africana studies major, a member of the Class of 2021 and while on campus, she lives in King House. She is also the inaugural recipient of the Cromwell Fellowship. She is both a lover and a fighter. She charges forward with intention and faith; Armed with the desire to create spaces in which Black women feel valued and cherished. She is a firm believer in serendipity, “the universe” and the power art holds in transforming what people deem possible.

Additionally, as an avid Hatha yogi, she believes in the boundless potential that blooms when one learns to listen to their inner wisdom. Her “natural habitat” includes her loved ones, joyous laughter, art books, purple hydrangeas, her yoga mat and a big mug of tea (with ginger).



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