Rest is Resistance: Reflections From Our Org Break

Greetings SNS community,


Earlier this year, I read Tricia Hersey’s revolutionary book, Rest Is Resistance, a manifesto that charges us to reclaim our power and humanity by prioritizing rest. I found myself personally validated by her assertions of the particular labor that is required and demanded of Black women, and inspired by visions of another way to live and liberate through the active practice of restoration. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to put those learnings into practice by taking my first-ever sabbatical this past Summer. Over those 10 weeks, I embraced the art of living through travel, intimate time with family and friends, proximate community engagement, and revitalizing my practice of integrating personal hobbies into my everyday life. I also got more and better sleep than I have in the past twenty years (the irony of that statement is not lost on me, when considering our organization’s name). 


While my sabbatical flew by, the lessons of which I was reminded, and the insights that I gained, are ever-present: Our justice work ultimately aims for a world where everyone can thrive–and thriving must involve community, joy, and rest. In addition to refilling my own cup as SNS’ leader, I was reminded of the importance of having the infrastructure in my life to refuel regularly–not just every several years through an extended break. The break also reiterated my responsibility to ensure that such intention around care and wellness is consistently available to our whole team, and modeled through my own behavior. The time off forced me to continue interrogating and reckoning with my own relationship to grind-culture, and what I need to continue learning and unlearning in this self-work journey. Ironically, the time away also allowed me to dream of possibilities for the work ahead, and to gain clarity about how to make those visions a reality for our organization. 


Lastly this sabbatical filled me with immense gratitude for the deep support that surrounds me, and enabled me to take this break. I am grateful for the family and friends who all celebrated my opportunity to take this extended period of rest. I am grateful to my mentors who had been suggesting a sabbatical for the past couple of years. I am grateful for my wonderful partnership with our COO, Samson, who happily encouraged this extended break, and to my supportive board who immediately approved this time off with palpable enthusiasm. And very particularly, I am deeply appreciative of Kerrien Suarez, the phenomenal leader of Equity in the Center. In sisterhood, she recognized my need for a break a year ago, and in solidarity, Equity in the Center generously funded my sabbatical. Kerrien’s provision of this unique opportunity in my critical time of need models the abundant posture through which we can operate to support each other in community; and I am forever grateful to her and Equity in the Center for their benevolence.


As we celebrate SNS’ anniversary this month, I am grateful for all that we have been able to accomplish over the past eight years in such a wonderful community of supporters; And after my epic sabbatical, I am more excited and hopeful than ever about the transformative work ahead.

In service,



Whitney Parnell

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