Art Installation Hopes to Give People of Color Reparations Through Rest

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Dec 06, 2019

Racism is exhausting, it doesn’t just feel that way. In fact, people of color are nearly 18 percent more likely to sleep less than Whites, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control. And now, a multi-sensory experience at the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College focuses not just on the racial disparities of sleep deprivation, but suggests rest could be a form of reparations.

“Income inequality requires African Americans to work longer hours for less pay. Discriminatory housing policies segregate many people of color into crowded neighborhoods, where nights are noisier and housing stock is in worse condition,” reads the description for the installation “Black Power Naps/Siestas Negras” by Afro-Latinx artists Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa.

The installation features six embellished beds and a soundtrack that includes explanations from the artists about what the concept of sleep means to them. “Ultimately, I am the child of immigrants. I also live my life as a trans queer Black person,” Acosta told WLRN Public Radio and Television’s Sundial during an audio interview published yesterday (December 5) about the work and how people of color view sleep and relaxation. “For me, the sleep gap is really inherited generational trauma. It is living in our bones. It is passed down through us. ‘Black Power Naps’ is really addressing that directly, so establishing a place where we can find rest and reparation is key.”

“Black Power Naps” is part of the exhibition “Where the Oceans Meet,” which includes an international group of 40 artists and collectives who consider geographic, national, cultural, social, racial, ethnic and linguistic borders—and how crossing them has shaped our world. The exhibition and installation are both on view through January 12, 2020.