In Light of Eric Garner Jury Decision, Read Terence Nance's Passionate Open Letter: 'Niggas are Scared of Revolution'
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In Light of Eric Garner Jury Decision, Read Terence Nance's Passionate Open Letter: 'Niggas are Scared of Revolution'

Terence NanceBarely a week after a grand jury refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, another case of excessive police violence has ended in the same manner, with a jury refusing to bring charges against policeman Daniel Pantaleo for putting a deadly chokehold on unarmed New Yorker Eric Garner.

Amid ongoing protests, Blackout for Human Rights, a collective of content creators and activists founded by filmmaker Ryan Coogler, is speaking out against the trend of police officers killing citizens with impunity. Following the organization’s launch with a recent retail boycott and national day of action on Black Friday, filmmaker and Blackout member Terence Nance reflects on the state of affairs and what should happen next. 

I was talking to a friend about the nuances and nature of our

collective anger in response to the recent rash of state sponsored police

murders of unarmed Black Men. I told her that my anger took many forms:

retribution, depression, anxiety, worry, and a creeping fatalism fed by the

feeling that my Chi is rendered inert as a result of my participation in a

social system that wants me dead.

One iteration of my rage is a pitiful/contemplative sadness

that I feel from time to time. It is caused by a deep knowing of the fact that

state sponsored murder is, has been, and will be (till we stop it) a legal,

institutionally supported tool used by the American government to sustain white

supremacy, wealth supremacy, oligarchy, and patriarchy.  It’s a sadness that comes on the heels

of what I process as a defeat as those in power have succeeded in communicating

THE MESSAGE to us, a community of marginalized people. The message is,  “Obey, assimilate, accept your status

as a second class citizen, or we will kill you.”  The defeat? We have completely internalized this message.

America has been saying this to us since the day it was born.

 I’ve come to see these murders by the police as a sort of institutional

show of force, a scare tactic. My aforementioned fatalism is a result of the

deep knowing that this scare tactic works. To put it coarsely and in a way

culturally consistent with that ’70s Blackness, a passage from The Last Poets

“I Love Niggas.”

I love niggas, I love


Because niggas are me

And I should only love

that which is me

I love to see niggas go

through changes

Love to see niggas act

Love to see niggas make

them plays and shoot the shit

But there is one thing

about niggas I do not love

Niggas are scared of


Suspend the urge to un-align yourself or your people with the

word "nigga" and bear with me as I challenge that last line. It isn’t

that we are scared of change, or even death. It’s that we don’t want to die. Having been witness to the

success and failures of previous generations of artists, activists, race men

and women, do-gooders, church folk, teachers, and revolutionaries; having been

witness to the homeostasis of American society; having been witness to the

persistence of wealth supremacy, patriarchy, white supremacy; we have concluded

that the sacrifice is not worth it, whether that sacrifice is of our life

itself or our way of life. We got the message. Try and change things

peacefully? Bullet in the head. Violently? Same bullet, same head.

The bullets left in Mike Brown’s body were a show of force –

not warning shots, but a warning murder. The non-indictment was a show of

force. These are the patient movements of a smug dictator, aware of his cruelty

and the power of the hegemony he propagates. It’s all a show of force — a

parade of dead black bodies with which to cajole us into stasis.

The deep sadness comes from the fact that this parade of

unarmed black bodies – often in the prime of their vitality, young, at the peak

of their energy – works. In the face of their show of force we have in the

recent past been unaware and unwilling to use our collective power. We are not

willing to risk our lives, our livelihood, our comfort, in the service of

dismantling white supremacy, wealth supremacy, oligarchy, and patriarchy… quickly.

In the recent past we have been unwilling to face the

consequences of fighting back. The American government, the corporations that

fill its coffers, and the oligarchs that benefit from it all make sure we are

clear on the consequences of collective action to strip them of power,

influence, and wealth.

So what is there to do? Me and mine made a few films. We’ve

been organizing, trying to hit the corporations in their pockets, where it

hurts, and organize our own show of force.

This whole thing is much more complicated and nuanced than what

I have expressed above and this show of force is just the first of many. A

sustained effort is necessary.

The grave, sobering, unmovable reality is that WE must be

willing, en masse, to risk our comfort, our livelihood, and our lives in order

to dismantle white supremacy, wealth supremacy, oligarchy, patriarchy, and the

hyper-violent, sociopathic institutions that uphold it all… quickly.

Who is WE?

The WE must be inclusive of the most visible, wealthy,

connected and famous of us, the most impoverished, and anonymous of us, and

everyone in between.


what are WE willing to risk?

because we gotta stop this… quickly.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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