I lived through coups in Ghana. One was backed by America. They are never spontaneous. They are carefully, thoughtfully planned and always, always include security forces, and security intelligence at the highest level. That doesn’t mean there is not chaos. It doesn’t mean that everybody knows the ins and outs of the plan. Wrapped in that chaos is planning. Your trauma is familiar to us who have lived through the horror, devastation, fear, legacy and the aftermath. To Black folks in America, our hearts go out to you.
There is much talk of healing. This attempted coup, this process, this call for healing, all sits within a global Black experience of white supremacist violence—in America, in South Africa, in Kenya. To be clear, we need an Emotional Justice. What does that look like? For global Black people, our healing is never separate from a political reality because injustice and inequity is stitched into our politics and part of the fabric of our world. That world includes our emotionality. Because of that, our healing—centering our global Black experience within the context of a global history—must always include accountability. Always. America’s weapon, shield, armor and battlefield is whiteness. It is their frontline and faultline. Cracked wide open now, who will America become? There is who America was before the attempted coup, and who America is going to be in its aftermath. It can never be “let’s move past this.” There is no moving past. It is connected to a 500 year history. There is standing, moving through a process of justices: legal and emotional. The crucial unforgiving work of an accountability that starves white supremacy of what it has always been granted—a politicised, racialized empathy that is cancer to justice or healing. There can be no reconciliation. None. There is accountability, there is dismantling and that is what healing looks like. The reckoning is that healing occurs within a fault line of race. For white folks, such a healing that centers accountability and dismantling is absolutely traumatic because white supremacy has no idea how to not be centered. This is where we are. It is time for Emotional Justice.
—Esther Armah is the executive director of The Armah Institute of Emotional Justice.