A Candid Exploration of Rest and Healing
I am a Black woman. I am fucking tired.
Where Can I Find Rest?
On May 27, I turned twenty years old.
I’ve been living in quarantine for the past two and half months with my family, especially since my father is an essential worker in the healthcare system. I woke up with an already full day on my plate –– online classes for my summer research fellowship, planning out some online workshops I would be hosting in a few weeks, and of course, responding to birthday messages from friends and family. What should’ve been an overall enjoyable day was instead reliving my worst fears on repeat in my mind while a fake smile disguised my pain.
It was May 27 that the video of George Floyd’s death reached my Twitter timeline early in the morning.
It was the first piece of content I digested that day. Seared into my memory is his voice crying out for his mother as Derek Chauvin unrelentlessly restricts his airways. Seven minutes of agony that led to his heartbreaking, and sadly, unsurprising death. I later spend the next hour crying into my pillow, my throat hurting with imagined pain, as I pour my soul out for yet another Black man, another Black life, succumbing to a cruel and unusual death.
My name is Jaelyn Zakara Taylor. I am a Black woman. I am angry. I am devastated. I am disgusted. I am disappointed. I am not surprised. And I. Am. Fucking. Tired.
Since Trayvon was shot and killed by the monster known as George Zimmerman in 2012, I have spent the last eight years wondering if I am next –– if for some reason, an officer with nothing much to do and nothing much holding him back, will find a reason to pull a gun and kill me in cold blood before I can so much as offer an explanation. This is my reality, the reality of my younger sister, of my parents, my unborn nieces and nephews, my professors and classmates, my lovers and the entirety of my fellow Black sisters and brothers and nonbinary family.
This is the reality that has plagued my community with generational trauma that can never be forgotten –– for being Black comes with a target on your back, just as being human comes with blood in your body.
There are protests happening all over the country, including my city. I will likely never attend one.
My own personal experiences with the police have traumatized me deeply to the point of nightmares that haunt my consciousness when I sleep. I am terrified to my core to do much these days. I avoid going on runs in my gated community because you never know who could be passing through. I avoid the grocery store because what if it’s the wrong time and wrong place.
And yet, staying inside kills me with the same insanity. My phone has become my enemy. Any attempt to feel normal is met with more instances of police brutality popping up as trending topics. My messages are bombarded with allies trying to check in and pledge their support. This is the only thing that anything, and anyone, wants to discuss and I feel like such a fucking hypocrite for not wanting to participate.
All I want is rest. Peace of mind. I am so tired of being forced to see Black death. Black agony. Black torture.
I have depleted myself, financially and emotionally, reading the stories of those imprisoned for daring to speak up and choosing to support their right to freedom. I am exhausted by the constant barrage of questions and messages and pleas to find resources and share them with the uneducated, as if Google isn’t an already free service.
Above all else, I am tired of feeling guilty for feeling tired. The work of an activist is never easy, and I am still young in my journey; however, the pressure to be on the frontlines, the sick feeling of FOMO in these horrid times, are very real and yet I continue to invalidate them.
The physical world won’t let me rest. The virtual world won’t let me rest. My own thoughts won’t let me rest.
And so tired, I wake up, another day. And so tired, I sleep, another night.
I looked up to him
pleading, on my knees:
My body is tired.
My mind is exhausted.
My heart is empty.
My soul is grieved.
A moment’s respite,
I beg of you, please.”
A shot to my stomach
Tears burn my face
A knee breaks my neck.
Silly of me
to assume that rest
for a nigger like me.
whether in peace
or in power.
and so on and so forth
are all at rest.
how bitter the envy bubbles in my chest.
Jaelyn Taylor is a Contributing Writer for Rowdy Magazine.