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CERA's mission is to promote the concerns and well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) with an interest in community psychology within academia, practice and praxis; to promote training and professional development opportunities for BIPOC; and to advise and inform the Executive Committee on the implications of decisions made that affect the positive well-being of BIPOC.
Interim Co-Chair: Jesica Siham Fernández, Santa Clara University
Interim Co-Chair Geraldine (Geri) Palmer, Adler University, and Community Wellness Institute. LLC
This quarter we feature: Dr. Deidra M. Somerville!
Affiliation: Esusu Chicago
Title: Founder and Member
Tell us about your current work.
Esusu Chicago is a collective dedicated to mutual aid, mutual support and our collective liberation. We actively work to heal our relationships with money-trauma as we pass what is termed the "pot" which is pooled monetary resources each month.
Finding wisdom in the traditions of our ancestors and forebearers to address money-trauma is part of the journey that Esusu explores. It exposes myths that we hear about money and success: that we must go it alone, that we have to be self-reliant to make progress, that we don't need interdependence as part of our successes, etc. We are dedicated to continuing the "pot passing" traditions of our ancestors and forbearers. We keep Esusu simple, accessible, and a benefit to all who participate. We actively celebrate and support each other.
The traditions of Esusu practice in my own family line come from Louisiana. Healing from various forms of trauma is an active and evolving practice that Black folk the world over engage with as a matter of daily living. We often times are not as focused on the traumas we've endured as it relates to money, traumas that are intergenerational and serve as barriers to social and emotional health.
Positive collectivist practice confronts and dismantles such myths. Collectivist practices are part of our rich inheritances as Black people. Esusu Chicago endeavors to reclaim and restore this inheritance as part of our work. We say that diversity matters, but we often think of diversity in terms of representation; seats at tables of White-run power structures where we demand to be seated or are invited to be seated. Esusu practice goes beyond diversity in this way: the practitioners hold space at our own table, where we practice in name and form the work that our ancestors engaged in. We don't require White interest or White influence for validation, and use our ancestral knowledge and wisdom as our yardstick for approval and progress. This is akin to Sankofa - drawing upon the knowledge and wisdom of the past to see our way forward.
How does this work align with CERA's mission?
CERA's insistence on making sure that we, as people of color represent ourselves, our voices, our strategies as a means of self-determination speaks directly to Esusu Chicago's work. I grew up as the first generation of my family born in the Bay Area from the south. Many of the collectivist traditions from the south permeated my upbringing. We raised chickens, rabbits, pigs and ate mostly from gardens and fruit trees in our community. Many of us traded with each other. It was a very tight network of families working and raising children together. We also carried the social and leisure club tradition from Louisiana that was initiated by women, a direct retention of the Esusu. We see this retention throughout the Caribbean and Diaspora.
What is Esusu's future goals?
Our future goal is to expand our membership to include as many people who are willing and ready to engage in healing trauma associated with money. We are continuously expanding our membership and reach through Esusu societies that are being formed in the Chicago area.
What have been some of the insights or lessons you've learned from your work?
Keeping circle means trusting all of us to keep circle with one another. I am learning to trust all of the members in the process, and myself. We are now dreaming bigger together and know that each movement we make forward helps the movement we are part of to push forward.
Any other highlights or words of inspiration?
"Collectivist practices are part of our rich inheritances as Black people...celebrate and support one another."
Case Studies in Community-Psychology Practice: A Global Lens OER Textbook
Geri Palmer, Interim Co-Chair of CERA is working with a team of colleagues on editing and authoring a community psychology practice open-education resource (OER) textbook. In the OER space, the textbook is free to students, which helps to cut the rising costs of higher education for students and their families, and is a great contemporary teaching and learning tool. For more information, please visit the homepage in the Rebus Community Press at https://press.rebus.community/communitypsychologypractice/
We are always on the lookout for new members! For more information or how to join, contact