June Reflections: On 100 Nights of Rest

As I reflect on June, I can’t help but think about my Goddaughter’s birthday. She turned four at the very end of May in North Minneapolis. As we’ve all become accustomed to over these last few months, we Zoomed in to watch as she enthusiastically unwrapped her mostly space-themed presents. She certainly  knows what she likes.  In this pinprick of unbridled joy, I felt happy and sad at the same time. I was happy for the purity of her happiness and the protection she had from the turmoil outside her door. I was sad, of course, because I knew that this blissful ignorance, impossible not to envy, wouldn’t last forever. One day soon, she will become painfully aware of the terrible injustice that exists in the world and she’ll come face-to-face with the magnitude of all the work that has yet to be done. 

We’ve spent a lot of time this month thinking about and discussing racial injustice in America, and we intend to continue doing so. And while those conversations rightly focus on what is broken, I also want to make sure we focus on what is good, starting with the stories of nearly 6,000 people who were nominated through the 100 Nights of Rest offering we have launched in partnership with Rachel Cargle and The Loveland Group.

These are the people whose dedication and perseverance will make my Goddaughter’s neighborhood, city, and country a warmer, kinder, more accepting place to grow up, and I’m so thankful for and inspired by their work. They’re the proof that fighting injustice happens every single day, in loud and quiet ways, and if we’re going to make meaningful change, it will take all of us. 

I’m glad to be able to use this space to announce the first nine recipients of a night of rest, as described by the people in their lives who nominated them. 

Anastasia Tomkin

“Anastasia is a force of nature. From the day I met her she has used her voice and her actions to combat racism and white supremacy. She is a prolific writer, having created and managed a blog dedicated to topics related to racial justice, and she now publishes regularly on her Medium page. She is a poet and a fiction writer, with a poetry collection soon to be published. She works at a nonprofit dedicated to mitigating the damage caused by mass incarceration, and she weaves advocacy and the fight for justice into her every move, be it in the workplace, in her relationships, or in her self-expression. She is a perceptive and talented writer, a caring and loyal friend, and a defender of her community. In short, Anastasia deserves a Getaway because she deserves to breathe and thrive and prosper.”

Angela Patton

“Angela has turned a labor of love into a force that fully supports and guides Black Girls in the Richmond Va area. She started this after an unfortunate event took the life of a young girl she loved. She knew then that Black girls needed a safe space to go. She has grown the Camp Dive into Girls For A Change that has social justice at the forefront while also nurturing and empowering girls. She has brought so many resources like coding, workforce training, policy reform and so much more.She creates a safe space for young girls to grow into leaders and get the space that they need to develop and get resources. Not only does she help young girls but she also empowers and connects young women like myself as well. She can always connect you and go out of her way to get you the support and resources that you need to chase your dreams. She is a pivotal component in so many lives and she does so much of the work by herself!”

Deolu Aromolaran

“Deolu is a pediatrics resident who works in a hospital treating primarily minority patients. He goes into work every day, fighting against the racist healthcare system and provides Black children with excellent care and acts as a mentor to look up to. A few weeks ago, when the curfew was in place, he risked his life, driving as a Black man after curfew, going back and forth to work. On a weekly basis he has young Black male patients tell him they have never seen a Black doctor. He works tirelessly with the administration to increase the number of Black physicians hired by the hospital and works to improve their experience once they are hired. He spends hours personally mentoring them so that they can succeed. He is actively working to bring others into the spaces he occupies and increase diversity in medicine. As a Black male physician, his existence and success is an act of resistance.”

Everett Arthur 

“Everett is an incredible friend and coworker who has spent the better part of his life showing up for, and supporting, his community in both his personal and professional life. Everett works with a national gun violence prevention organization and has helped to advocate for and pass a number of GVP bills across the country. His focus on gun violence prevention is tied to his commitment to bettering the material conditions of Black communities. He consistently draws attention to inequity in the workplace and advocates for Black women and Black queer people in navigating their workplaces. As someone who is deeply committed to bettering the world for his community, Everett often forgets to prioritize his own needs. In the midst of the pandemic and ongoing national protests, I believe a Getaway is the perfect opportunity for Everett and his partner to rest and recharge.”

Jasmine Edwards

“My best friend Jasmine has been working as a Music Therapist in the Pediatrics Unit of Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in New York City since the first week that the Coronavirus pandemic hit our city. No, for real, her first day was that week! At the same time, she has been working as an Adjunct Professor in the Music Therapy Department at Howard University in Washington DC. Jasmine took the job at Howard—though she had to commute to DC for 4 hours twice a week—because she is deeply invested in the success of Black students in the therapy professions as a way to provide mental health resources to Black and other underrepresented communities who often have stigmas about self-care though they experience the most trauma. She cares so much about the students that she comes into contact with, and she genuinely wants to see them succeed. Because she was working both jobs at the same time, Jasmine had to work 6 days out of the week for the whole semester. She did not complain even once, because she was happy to support her students and the children at the hospital. She, herself, has trouble with anxiety and I know the toll that the uncertainty of the pandemic was taking on her every day, yet she went to work every day with a smile on her face. I am so proud of Jasmine for the work that she is doing every day, but I would love for her to have some much-deserved time to rest, relax and recharge.”

Leila Marchbanks 

“Leila is an inspiration to me on so many levels. On top of fighting for Black lives daily and raising two sons, she is a teacher who is pushing for changes in school curriculum. She recently started The Book At The Table, which gives teachers and parents resources to give children books with diverse authors and stories. She continues to fight to have the full history of the Black community told in schools, and she is helping create change by inspiring youth!”

Lina Washington 

“Lina Washington is one of the hardest workers I know. She is one of few Black female sports broadcasters, she has been protesting, and she’s used her voice to create @boardsforchange, raising over $10,000 for Black Lives Matter. This, all while her father suffered from COVID 19. He recently passed away from the coronavirus, and she has not only continued to raise money for BLM and supported her cause, but she has had dozens of interviews to expose the dangerous working conditions for those forced to go back to work too soon, and the rising danger of COVID 19 in her hometown of Phoenix. This girl is non-stop and had to publicly announce she would now like to take a day to grieve after weeks of nonstop community service. She is amazing, she deserves everything. There are few people who have single handedly done more for their community.”

Marlene Boyette 

“Marlene radiates positive, healing energy. She uses her yoga practice to support people around her of all ages to practice radical self care. In this time of deep trauma for the black community, she has stepped up to provide opportunities for people of color to take time for healing and self care. This is an essential part of racial justice. Black people are exhausted and experiencing severe trauma and Marlene is overcoming that reality to support others. She is the epitome of extending self care to community care. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a rest so she can keep showing up and providing herself as a resource in the community.”

Shaina Harrison

“My sister is an amazing mom, teacher and activist. She’s the Educational doctor at New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. Over the past 15 years she’s been fighting to amplify the voices of young Black teens living in communities disproportionately affected by violence and poverty. She’s a mentor to hundreds of young people all over NYC. She’s written curriculum and taught restorative justice and empathy in NYC school. Organized marches with 50,000 thousand participants. Created a Covid 19  response for the DoE and facilitated virtual learning classes for young people throughout the epidemic. She is a hero. She deserves rest. She’s been written about in the New Yorker as a New Yorker of the week twice. All while taking care of a 2 year old. She even blogs about plus size fashion creating brave spaces for plus size women to love and advocate for themselves.” 

We’re still accepting nominations of Black people working for change, or those fighting for the Black community, who’d benefit from a night of rest. You can nominate people in your life here

Black Lives Matter. Change is hard fought, and we’re committed to this hard fight. Learn more here.