Teen Vogue Now Telling Kids That a Night of Restful Sleep Is Part of Systemic Racism


Is it creepy for an aging male millennial to subscribe to Teen Vogue? Asking for a friend.

In case you’ve never encountered the junior edition of Vogue, they don’t seem to spend as much time on fashion tips like “7 Vogue Editors on Their Favorite White Shirts”  or “Barbara Palvin on Her Everyday Beauty Routine, From Pimple Patches to the Ultimate Eye-Opening Makeup Trick.”

Instead, here’s what’s on Teen Vogue’s front page as of late Saturday night: “Karen Is Being Used by White Women — Here’s Why They Need to Stop,” “‘The Bold Type’ Shouldn’t Endanger Queer Black People for Entertainment” and “Munroe Bergdorf Shares 7 Steps to Change the Beauty Industry for Good.”

If this is the free stuff, just imagine what’s in the actual magazine. I suppose changing the beauty industry for good is, well, good, although given how Teen Vogue defines that word, I’d be wary. As for how “The Bold Type” is endangering queer black people, it turns out “endangering” them involves having a fictional progressive character date a conservative. As for the “Karen” article, I’ll simply leave the title out there and call for summary judgment.

None of this involves beauty tips, pimple patches or white shirts. But at least they’re focusing on the important stuff. Like this article, published July 10: “Black Power Naps Is Addressing Systemic Racism in Sleep.”

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Yes, your teens are being told a good night’s rest is now white privilege. For hundreds and hundreds of years, Brittney McNamara reports, black people have been deprived of sleep. As a form of protest against this, Fannie Sosa and Navild Acosta have created Black Power Naps, “an artistic initiative with components including physical installations, zines, an opera, and more.”

“But it’s also a recognition of the hundreds of years of sleep deprivation that Black people and people of color have experienced as a result of systemic racism, a way to pushback against the false stereotype that Black people are lazy, and an investigation of the inequitable distribution of rest,” McNamara wrote. “That lack of sleep has serious consequences.”

“It came from understanding that the American dream is a sleepless one,” Sosa told Teen Vogue. “We inherited this exhaustion.”

Studies have shown that black people tend to get less sleep and less deep sleep than people of other races, according to Teen Vogue. There are obvious health risks associated with that and it’s something Acosta and Sosa are nominally interested in.

Does lack of sleep affect everyone, regardless of race?

“I’d been looking at statistics around lower life expectancy rates and how marginalized communities are greatly impacted by that phenomenon,” Acosta said, according to the article. “Where there are heightened level[s] of stress and cortisol, and a lower life expectancy, sleep and rest are part of that.”

This would be an interesting six-graph human interest piece if that’s where it ended. But then again, this is Teen Vogue we’re talking about, so of course, it doesn’t end there. McNamara wrote there’s “something deeper going on — Acosta explained that sleep deprivation was used as a means of control over enslaved people, meaning Black people haven’t been getting the sleep they need for generations.”

“We’re dealing with an inheritance of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation was a … deliberate tactic of slave owners to basically make the mind feeble,” he said. “That same tactic has only evolved.”

What’s the solution here, then? Demands for flexible working hours? Courses on work-life balance? Admonitions toward white people to step up and be allies in sleep equality?

I’m sure those might play into it, but Acosta and Sosa have a bigger idea: Reparations in the form of sleep, or at least time off.

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“Slavery is a regime of stealing and extraction: Stolen wages, stolen life, stolen land, but stolen time was one of the main things. We need time,” Sosa said.

“We need time off, we need time out. Our ancestors never got to take a month off for holidays, they never got to take a sabbatical, they never got to take a nap. When you pile all of those together, you see the reparations that need to happen are monetary, but they’re also time and space.”

Again, summary judgment. There’s no more effective argument against Black Power Naps’ agenda than letting Black Power Naps enumerate the agenda.

McNamara further notes that people of color are especially exhausted these days because of all the protesting, making Black Power Naps’ mission all the more vital.

“We are having to go out in the streets during a pandemic, expending our energy in really huge amounts in order to ask for reparations and rest and energy. It is a … double-edged sword to navigate as an activist or organizer,” Sosa said.

“You are putting your body on the line to reclaim it. That creates a lot of burnout. We have people who are 20, 21, they are burnt out. They need time off. They need not only to sleep, but to know their people are going to be OK, to know they’re going to be OK, to know they can take a break.”

I thought the protests didn’t spread COVID-19, but I digress. The sad thing is that this comes off as so earnest and genuine you feel bad for laughing.

From the sound of things, Black Power Naps has done nothing to stop systemic racism in sleep, such as it exists, and plans to do nothing about it in the future. The science shows black Americans don’t get the kind of sleep they need, according to Teen Vogue, which clearly presents a public health problem. That problem won’t be solved by a duo of thoroughly unserious liberal arts majors who think the root issue is systemic racism and the way to address it is sleep reparations and zines.

Even within the activist sphere, I doubt anyone is jumping at the opportunity to partner with Acosta and Sosa after reading this article. While this is a fine piece of performance art, the endgame of a group that believes it can solve the health issues associated with differences in sleep patterns between black Americans and other people with power naps and operas seems to be a write-up in Teen Vogue — a magazine which has previously informed its readers that “sex work is real work,” “[h]aving access to abortion should be your right, regardless of your parents’ beliefs” and that socialism is pretty awesome.

Looks like Black Power Naps has made it.

Which brings me back for my desire for a subscription. Sure, it feels really creepy. However, if this is the kind of unintentional comedy they provide free on their website, imagine what’s in the print edition.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture