Black Women and Unearned Leisure

“Safe homes allow women and girls to experience rest and pleasure.” – Is Your Family Safe for Women and Girls? pt V

Many of us are working beyond exhaustion in all of our intimate relationships, be they work, political, religious, familial, social, or romantic in nature.  It seems that over-extended Black women are the norm, regardless of class.  In fact class mobility seems to give us perhaps a more thorough to do list, one that layers in guilt for anything that could be considered “extra.”   Not only are our time and material resources expected to serve the general “us/other”- all of our connections to identity groups,  but even our health and joy are required for sacrifice.

The concepts of rest and Black women are hardly related to each other in our culture.  If we take a moment to imagine a Black woman resting, or rather not engaged in a service oriented activity, what thoughts or feelings arise?   The image of a resting Black woman usually prompts some variation of the question “what did she do to earn that rest?”  If she has not “earned” that rest, then we label her as lazy or assign some other attribute with negative implications.  The notion of earning rest also assumes that in our collective imagination Black women can indeed “earn” rest.  Yet in reality our shared belief is that if a Black woman has time or space to rest, naturally she should be assigned more work.

Rest is absolutely necessary for optimal health.  So if in our culture Black women are not deserving of rest, then too in our culture Black women do not deserve optimal health.

1 thought on “Black Women and Unearned Leisure”

  1. Great post and much needed… for years the Black woman has deserved the rest and mental health she really needs. I often choose a woman close to my heart and “on purpose” buy her something small. It may be a piece of fruit, a writing journal or simply present her with flowers from my garden. The joy that leaps out at me for this small act is without question the reward. Hopefully more of us will be on purpose and realize it’s the small things that make life worth living and peaceful! Your work is amazing and please keep going because you count big time.

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