The More Important the Work, the More Important the Rest

For Black people, interrupting the endless cycle of productivity is more important than ever

Lincoln Hill, PhD
Forge
Published in
3 min readJun 11, 2020

--

Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

Over the past few months, the pandemic has caused millions of people to rethink their relationship to work and striving — and to realize, finally, that the relentless obsession with productivity is universally harmful.

For Black people, this reckoning is particularly acute. With an ongoing global health pandemic disproportionately killing us, social distancing orders, an economic downturn mirroring the Great Depression, police still murdering Black people with little consequence, and a resulting national revolt, the world as we’ve known it is being cracked open and our society’s failings are on display.

In the midst of such despair and turmoil, it might feel absurd to talk about productivity. But for many of us, both the internal and external demands for productivity remain. Within a society that reduces us to our production despite our collective trauma and circumstances, we have to prioritize rest precisely because we’ve never been able to.

Black people deserve and are owed a guilt-free break. And we need to take it.

Prior to the ongoing racism pandemic and the present health pandemic, productivity allowed us to showcase our usefulness within a society that has historically exploited it. This is particularly true for Black Americans whose ancestors literally built the economy that made the United States a global powerhouse.

Black people are always expected to endure — to show up to work with smiles, complete our assignments on time, and provide for ourselves and our families while hiding our anguish and rage. We are consistently asked to denounce our humanity in order to conform and contort ourselves to fit within White society’s ideas of respectability.

Now, many of us are struggling with how to best engage with the movement happening outside of our front doors. The current moment contains so many urgent desires and pressures: to stay updated with news and sociopolitical trends, to keep physically safe amid Covid-19, to navigate our finances in an economic slump, and to engage in protest.

--

--

Lincoln Hill, PhD
Forge
Writer for

Black woman, mental health counselor, researcher, wellness consultant, PhD in counseling psychology, and Beyoncé stan. IG: black_and_woman_IG