We’ve learned over the last month or so that many of our most cherished national symbols and systems are hopelessly affected by racism. A short (but far from comprehensive) list would include: Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, the “Cops” TV show, the Washington Redskins, the phrase “low-hanging fruit,” the very concept of police, the movie “Gone With the Wind,” the Texas Rangers, Mount Rushmore, the Mississippi state flag, President Donald Trump, the coronavirus, face masks, and Uncle Ben’s rice.
Oh, and we’re pretty sure we read somewhere that the little “white guy” who tells you to go at a crosswalk is also an example of unintentional racism. No, we’re not kidding.
And yet, as hard as it is to believe, we haven’t yet reached the bottom of this silliness. Indeed, our nation’s systemic racism doesn’t even end when you go to sleep. Because, see, according to Teen Vogue, our racist country doesn’t even let black people get the rest they need.
The online-only magazine ran a feature story about Fannie Sosa and Navild Acosta, the creators of something called Black Power Naps (BPN), which is a product designed as “a sculptural installation, vibrational device and curatorial initiative that reclaims laziness and idleness as power.”
The creators told Teen Vogue that they developed the product because they were tired. “But it wasn’t just any old fatigue,” the magazine noted. “They were specifically experiencing a generational fatigue familiar to Black people and people of color.”
“We inherited this exhaustion,” claimed Sosa.
The creators of BPN are looking for “a recognition of the hundreds of years of sleep deprivation that Black people and people of color have experienced as a result of systemic racism, a way to push back against the false stereotype that Black people are lazy, and an investigation of the inequitable distribution of rest.”
You’ll note that they are not scientists starting with a hypothesis which they are currently setting out to prove. No, that would be too close to STEM work, which we also learned this month has been hopelessly infected with racism. The name of the game these days is “lived experience,” and anecdotal evidence is all the evidence you need. If a black person says something is true, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s true. Indeed, we’ll gleefully upend our entire society on demand.
You might say something along the lines of, But wait, how do black people know they are more tired than white people? Or you might say, How exactly would sleep deprivation be passed from generation to generation? Rest assured, these questions are merely a signal of your privilege.
“We’re dealing with an inheritance of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation was a deliberate tactic of slave owners to basically make the mind feeble,” Acosta told Teen Vogue. “That same tactic has only evolved.”
Are you listening, racist White America? Stop intentionally depriving black people of sleep in the hopes of keeping them mentally feeble!
Maybe the problem is that we’re getting too much sleep. That might explain why this deeply stupid nightmare won’t seem to end.