It’s a Right, Not a Privilege: The Napping Resistance Movement
Who is allowed to rest in American society? Activists and “nap ministers” are embracing sleep as a political act
It’s a chilly Sunday morning at an art gallery on Atlanta’s north west side. The stark room is dark except for the light thrown off by a few dozen flickering candles. Twenty strangers lay motionless on the cement floor. Devotional piano music trickles out from a speaker in the center of the room. Finally, Tricia Hersey strides in. Standing nearly six feet tall, she announces in a booming voice, like a preacher to her flock: “The doors of the Nap Temple are open.”
Hersey, a performance artist and divinity-school graduate, is our Nap Bishop this morning, and she moves and speaks with the conviction of a baptist minister at a tent revival.
“Won’t you come? Won’t you lay?,” she says, as she begins reciting the Nap Manifesto, the document that outlines the mission of the Nap Ministry, which Hersey founded in 2016. “We believe that rest, and napping, provides a healing portal for us to imagine, to hope, to invent, to create, to heal, to rest, to resist.” Photographs are projected onto the wall behind her, images of women and girls at rest interspersed with messages that read, “You are enough,” and “Naps are not lazy.”
“This is an invitation for weary souls to rest,” Hersey continues, walking among the prone bodies as they relax a little more into their mats. “This is a resistance. This is a protest. You are enough. We are enough. Our worth not caught up in the grind of capitalism. You are welcome here. Sleep. Rest. Nap. Dream. Thank you for living. Thank you for resting. Thank you for loving. Thank you for resisting. The doors are open. Won’t you come?”
“Rest isn’t something you need to earn. When I want to lay down and take a nap, that’s a calling.”