Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: Rest is Power for Racial Justice and Healing

By: Shekila Melchior, Ph.D., LPC, ACS, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

“You were not just born to center your entire existence on work and labor. You were born to heal, to grow, to be of service to yourself and community, to practice, to experiment, to create, to have space, to dream, and to connect.” – Tricia Hersey

People who have experienced racial trauma have had their well-being significantly impacted as a result of that trauma. As we work for racial justice and healing together, there is something we can do to usher powerful healing into our lives. When given the opportunity to write about racial justice and healing I reflected on the power of rest, the liberation that comes from healing, and the recognition that healing is collective. My intention for this article is to highlight Rest as Power.

Research indicates that within recent years, people from racial/ethnic minority groups – particularly Black and Asian Americans – have experienced a rise in symptoms of anxiety and depression. The emotional distress experienced by these individuals can be attributed to the effects of racial trauma and vicarious trauma. As a result of racial trauma, there has been an increased awareness of the need for well-being healing practices among racial/ethnic minorities.

I have been swept up in this movement of rest as powerful resistance. Author Tricia Hersey explores the power and disruption of rest in her book Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto. Hersey posits, as racialized people, we often feel we’re running against the current, trying to travel upstream while being met with resistance on all sides. For hundreds of years racialized people in the United States have labored in body, mind, and soul. We can find racial justice healing in our collective spaces — the laughter from the belly, the celebration of our community, the successes of the generation to come, and the rejuvenating power of rest.

I believe that, in this generation of resistance, we can find revolutionary change by resting our bodies and souls. Rest is power.

How to Rest Well

Settle your body to release stress. Notice your body, notice the disruption in your nervous system as you witness or experience injustice and plant your feet, drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and REST.

Make time to practice well-being activities that rejuvenate your soul. You can include regular times in your schedule for mindfulness meditation, prayer, time enjoying nature, and anything else that brings you peace and joy.

Consider How to Use Your Energy to Pursue More Justice and Healing

Consider how to use your fresh energy from resting for these pursuits:

  • Traditional wellness and healing practices: Consider ways you can integrate indigenous and/or Afro-centric or Eastern healing practices.
  • Advocacy and activism: How can you advocate for policies that promote health equity and access to mental health services for racial/ethnic minorities?
  • Education and awareness: How can you educate mental health professionals and the general public about the impact of racial trauma on mental health?

Additional Resources

Learn more about the Rest is Resistance movement at

Discover tools for healing racial trauma in Mason’s Racial Trauma Toolkit.

Join Mason’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) for a monthly support group for faculty and staff that centers around resources, collective care, and a safe space to encourage and foster community. Registration information for the support groups is below. For questions, contact Dr. Shekila Melchior at ODEI.

  • October 18 at 12 noon: REGISTER
  • November 15 at 3 p.m.: REGISTER
  • December 13 at 12 p.m.: REGISTER

Enjoy Mason’s 2023 BIPOC Well-Being Week, which is happening from October 16 through October 20, 2023.

Write one of these Thriving Together Series features! We’re looking for contributions on all topics related to well-being. Read other Thriving Together Series articles here and contact us at for guidelines. Thank you for helping our Mason community thrive together online!