RE-Center’s Community of Care: Chatting with Régine Romain - Facilitator of Our First Book Club
In the fall of 2022, RE-Center began cultivating a new space - our RE-Center Community of Care (CoC). We envisioned the CoC as a space to nourish and pour into our consultant community of Racial Justice Strategists and Coaches with opportunities generating from a therapeutic, human-centered approach to human resources - one often not afforded to consultants in an organizational community. As RE-Center’s executive Director, Natalie McCabe Zwerger, explains, “The goal is to be nourished and fill our buckets as we go out and to do this work. We are intending for this CoC to be self-sustaining such that we will draw from the brilliance of folx in our full-time and consultant community to define our nourishment.” As part of the kickoff of the CoC, Racial Justice Strategist and Coach, Régine Romain, facilitated a book club reading of Tricia Hersey’s Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto. She sat down with us to chat about the experience.
What drew you to pick Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto as our first book club reading?
Well, I was thinking about starting from where I was as a facilitator and and and trying to figure out how to address my own needs, but then also being accountable to the community that we're building. Thinking about a community of care really made me think about the difference between community of care and self care, right? There’s a lot of promotion on social media about self care and what we have to do for self. But then when we think about community, there's another level of accountability. And so I thought that this book that Trisha Hersey put out, Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, would offer us a really wonderful opportunity to hear from someone who has dug into it, who has been doing this this work for some time, and to offer us maybe an opportunity to shift, shift how we're thinking of ourselves and others.
One of the things that I wanted to share about this book is that she writes about how resting is also reparations, in a sense, for her ancestors. There’s this fear of being lazy - especially for me and my identity as a Black person. That's a label that's been put on Black people, but that's actually the antithesis of the truth, right? And our actual embodiment is not only here in the present moment, but in our body, our DNA connects us to the past. So there's a way in which I can heal myself, and also be healing those that were injured in the past - heal through resting and actually resisting the grind culture that happens everywhere.
How was your experience facilitating the book club?
I think it was a lot of fun. I love books and it's a type of thing where I think it can be contagious - the joy of actually stopping to read. I was hoping that others could feel that - actually taking the moment and stopping and reading means that we're not doing something else. And so that means that we've given ourselves permission. Whether we agree with everything that Tricia Hersey wrote, it's about being able to engage in the space of contemplation that your body is not in motion. And so I was thinking that it's supporting us in our community of care, asking us to collectively just stop for a moment and consider the possibility that there may be other ways that we can help ourselves and help others.
Can you say more about how the book + book club fit into what you're hoping to experience in the RE-Center Community of Care?
I think it hit the mark. It literally hit the mark. I think really what it was for us is in thinking about the spaces that we are creating together as colleagues and the care that we have for each other and the support, how do we then build that up but then also support this model growing in other spaces? We can ask - did this book resonate in any way, did it help us to shift? And if so, are we able to hold on to that feeling? And then, are we able to also recognize that maybe there's support that could be offered in our other spaces - maybe not so much to have another book club or telling someone to read the book, but recognizing that maybe we need to be clear about our boundaries. So there's this way in which it’s centering us in our community lens and then allowing us to see our community outside of ourselves.
How has Tricia Hersey's work created an ecosystem of connections for you?
I think what's been exciting was hearing that the space on Mondays to gather actually really worked for someone and that they also saw they could bring that model to other spaces. I also loved one participant who laid on his bed or couch [during the meetings] kind of relaxing, you know, embodying rest. It wasn't the intention to be high stress and realizing that all of us are being able to connect in certain ways. I think that my first presentation to the group was a little bit more formal, like in the sense of slides and all that type of stuff. And then I was like, well, I don't really think we need that. And so part of the facilitation was being able to recognize that I'm not teaching this book, I'm holding the space. Realizing that if everyone is reading the book, and we're coming together, then there isn't any teaching that I'm per se doing; what I'm doing is I'm just holding a space for us to consider.
What other books, podcasts, videos etc. were in conversation with this book for you?
I shared with the group Tricia Hersey being interviewed at the Schomburg; it's called Between the Lines: Rest is Resistance. I also shared an interview with her on NPR: Why Rest is An Act of Resistance. The other thing that I shared with the group was a video from the Twilight Zone (" A Stop at Willoughby" Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3, Clip 4, and Clip 5). The intention of sharing that was that it was done in the 1950s and it was a whole discussion around grind culture; I wanted to bring in this place in which many of us may have experienced, you know, trying so hard to push, push, push.
Other Books that were in conversation with Tricia Hersey’s work for me were:
Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self Recovery by bell hooks
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy Degruy
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown
Lighter, by Young Pueblo
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
What are one or two of the most impactful or stand out quotes for you from the book?
“As a culture, we don't know how to rest. Our understanding of rest has been influenced by the toxicity of grind culture. We believe rest is a luxury, privilege and an extra treat we can give to ourselves after suffering from exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Rest isn't a luxury, but an absolute necessity. If we're going to survive and thrive, rest isn't an afterthought. Rest is a human right.” (p. 61)
“To rest in a dreamspace is a red brick through the glass window of capitalism.” (p. 97)
This last one really resonated with me because a big part of her book is about reclaiming our imagination, reclaiming our dreamspace, reclaiming rest as a portal for communication with our other selves - the self that's not grinding, the one that that wants us to breathe, the part of ourselves that is maybe our higher self, and for her it’s connection with her ancestors.
What rest practices have you personally cultivated after reading the book?
She talks about the Sabbath quite a bit and knowing what her Sabbath is. I haven't quite started but that's something that is definitely percolating for me - thinking about days in which I don't engage with certain things. What I am beginning to do is weaning myself off when I recognize I've spent a little bit too much time on social media.
I’m also recognizing that I have a right to heal. And that what I need to heal is what's important. And I have to know that being in denial of needing to heal doesn't work. What I really wanted to do was to get back into my yoga or regular yoga practice. And so that's one of the things that I did. A big part of it for me is one, recognizing that yoga helps me to rest and two, that it’s important for me to have time to stick to it.
Any final thoughts to share about the book, the book club experience, or the community of care?
The intention alone to create a community of care at RE-CENTER is healing; the courage to be able to step up and say ‘Hey, this is what's coming up. We recognize this need, we recognize that we are all experiencing trauma at different points. And so it’s about asking how are we helping each other to heal as we are also helping other communities to heal? And I see it growing. I see the book club as just one iteration. I'm excited for other facilitators, other books, and other practices. That's what I'm kind of excited about, because we have such a diverse group of folx that are with us that come with such tremendous skills and tools. And so I think that opening that space allows us to connect and I'm excited.