How do you deal with racism?
Lots of people are trying.
On February 1st, administrators at a Philadelphia school threw their hat into the ring with an idea.
As reported by Campus Reform, La Salle University announced February 9th’s “academic enrichment day.”
How might one get enriched academically?
As it turns out: Don’t go to (virtual) class.
But there was more to be gained than grades.
The day was dubbed “Rest as Resistance.”
The Roman Catholic college’s website lays it out:
Rest as Resistance is the theme of this academic enrichment day — the first of three built into the academic calendar this semester. Academic enrichment days aspire to give members of the La Salle community a Zoom-free respite from those days’ classes, coursework, and schedules while offering opportunities to explore important topics like anti-racism and showcase academic projects.
For the uninitiated, here’s CNN’s antiracism review:
Being anti-racist means more than ridding yourself of racist attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. It means you’re also actively fighting that reprehensible trinity as it manifests in your life on a daily basis.
Donating to activist organizations and protesting injustices are definitely good starts to becoming an ally. But that’s not enough. Actively rebutting prejudices in your own circles is key to lasting change, as those ideas and beliefs — unless challenged — are what our children absorb and are woven into the fabric of our culture.
Some people are describing obviously racist behavior as the tip of the iceberg — calling people racist names or threatening people on the basis of race. Then there’s the part of the iceberg that’s not easily visible to people if they’re not looking. This includes a range of subtle but insidious attitudes, behaviors and policies.
Among these are microaggressions. They are brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, [psychologist Beverly Tatum] said.
Microaggressions can be intentional, unintentional or even well-meaning, but they communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial assumptions to the receiver. And they have an insidious effect on a black person’s psyche and continuing racist assumptions.
- “Don’t blame me. I never owned slaves.”
- “All lives matter.”
- “I’m colorblind; I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow, green or purple.”
Back to La Salle, the school understands the rigors of racism:
The concept of Rest as Resistance centers around a belief held by noted scholars and authors who, like Resmaa Menakem, contend that since racism is a trauma on our bodies, any effort to heal racism begins with healing our bodies. Rest can then be a form of inoculation against the virus of racism, since resting allows us to heal and our healing can have a ripple effect in our communities.
So if you’re exhausted from oppression, consider sleepytime:
The University’s Joint Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Faculty Senate’s Anti-Racism Working Group (ARWG) and educators in the La Salle University Art Museum have curated the resources for the Rest as Resistance Academic Enrichment Day, which highlight what social justice leaders, particularly women of color, are teaching us about the importance of rest for disrupting oppressive and unhealthy aspects of our dominant culture, the personal and collective benefits of active rest, and best practices for resting.
Associate Professor of Religion and Theology Maureen O’Connell drops the science of survival:
“We decided to use this day to call our University community’s attention to peoples of color, especially Black women, currently advocating for rest as a form of resistance. These luminaries remind us that we as a nation have long relied on the unpaid labor of Black and Brown people, particularly women, to make our economies and institutions work. For them, rest isn’t a luxury. It’s about survival.”
La Salle lists “ways you can participate in the Rest as Resistance movement.”
And perhaps the most restorative: Take a nap.
The college suggests its suffering students “read ‘The Elemental Guide to Napping‘” and “take a ‘nap’ in the La Salle University Art Museum” if they like.
More on that:
The Art Museum invites members of the La Salle community to take a “nap,” so to speak, in its gallery between 12 – 3 p.m. in front of the print Winter Sleep by Paul Klee. Masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be in place.
Perhaps it’s a picture-perfect solution.
Either way, you get the idea — if your limbs are hanging from harm, saw some logs.
The next time society has your lids loaded like luggage, turn it all over to a school-sponsored skycap.
Put on those footed peejays and sock it to sectarianism.
And if you need to know how, consult a university-level Nap Ministry:
The Nap Ministry, founded by Rev. Tricia Hersey, has made available a variety of resources related to the Rest as Resistance movement. These range from guided meditations, to a Spotify playlist, to interviews with Rev. Hersey on NPR and the Story Collider podcast—the latter of which examine the relationship between rest and social justice. For more, you can follow the Nap Ministry on Instagram.
Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bigots bite.
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