Council on Cultural, Ethnic and Racial Affairs



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. Jenny Escobar
Affiliation: Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention-Binghamton University, Charles E. Scheidt Post-Doctoral Fellow
Briefly, and generally describe your research/project. What are the key questions or issues that guide your work?
My dissertation research project titled “Memoria Viva”: State Violence and the Movement for Memory in Colombia, focused on examining the social psychological process by which survivors of state violence such as massacres, forced disappearances, and displacement, engaged in memory practices as a tool for social justice. This project examined the individual and collective experiences of resiliency and social justice activism of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and other survivors of state violence. This project traces the processes by which individuals who have experienced state-sponsored violence come to recognize their experiences, not solely as individual ones, but as part of a collective and systemic form of violence, and how they engage in social justice demands, in particular how they come to use memory as a tool for social justice.
The following research questions guided the analysis of this process: 1) How do survivors of state violence understand their experiences of trauma? 2) How do survivors of state violence transform their experiences of violence into demands for social justice? 3) How do survivors of state violence come to see memory as a tool for social justice? I build on this research to propose a decolonial survivor-centered pedagogy where survivors’ lived experiences of violence, collective trauma and resilient strategies are at the heart of how we learn about systems of violence and the possibilities for change.
This focus on survivor-centered knowledge disrupts the hegemonic narratives of the past and present-day violence, and challenge educators to engage in our own process of collective memory as we reconstruct the past and envision the possibilities for a future in our scholarship and teaching.
What motivated this research/project? How did you become involved?
Even though I grew up in Colombia and among many Colombians once I migrated to the United States, as a community we rarely discussed the direct and structural violence that had been going on in the lives of our grandparents, our parents and our own lives. We never had conversations about why our families migrated and how our families back home dealt with the consequences of living in a protracted bloody civil war. This silence not only permeated the past and present realities of my family and communities in Colombia, but it was also my experience as a first generation immigrant in the United States. For my family, and many immigrants, silence is a way to cope with fear: fear of being deported, or fear of being marginalized due to our race, cultural practices or political views. We rarely talk about the racism, classism or xenophobia we experience at our jobs, schools and public places. Recognizing how silence connected my experiences as a first generation immigrant in the United States to survivors of the Colombian conflict, I developed the urge to find out more about my own family history and that of others who had migrated or had stayed in Colombia.
Please share some of the challenges, highlights and/or lessons learned from your research/project.
I learned many lessons from the survivors who let me into their lives and justice movement. One of the main lessons that they shared was the strength and transformative power of love. It was their love for their loved ones who had been killed, disappeared, or displaced that gave them purpose and provided them with the strength to move forward. It was their relentless love for the memory of their loved ones to not be forgotten that kept them going. Love then became a central component to healing and articulating demands for justice such as truth and guaranteed to this violence never happening again.
What have been some of the insights or lessons you’ve learned from your work? How does your work push forward or contribute to CERA’s mission and agenda?
This work contributes to CERA's mission by offering a survivor of state violence centered understanding of trauma, resiliency and vision for social change. It challenges psychologists and others to rethink the agency and healing capacity of the human spirit, while maintaining the urgency and necessity of articulating a vision of justice that is at the heart of our research and scholarship. This research forces us to confront the consequences of silence and violence, and provides a blueprint for what is needed both from structures of violence and communities such as psychologists to promote healing rather than harm.
Anything else you want us to reflect on as part of your research/project? What do you hope your research/project will achieve -- what do you hope will be the impact/implication?
My commitment to survivors of state violence in Colombia is for this research and other scholarship to become part of the movement for memory. I see this research as part of the memory making practices that I hope will reach many others who can then share and advocate for the transformative vision that survivors have for their loved ones and the rest of the world.
Thank you Dr. Escobar for allowing us to feature you in our E-Newsletter!
CERA's Presence at SCRA 18th Biennial!
CERA is please to share that we have a number of sessions sponsored by our members that are scheduled at the SCRA 18th Biennial this week and next week during the regular conference sessions. This week on Wednesday CERA and the Early Interest Group will hold a Pre-Conference workshop: Centering Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice (DEIRJ) within Professional Development Trainings on Wednesday, June 23rd 11:00am to 2:00pm.
Other workshops and sessions include: Disrupting and Unsettling White Supremacist Regimes of Colonial Power: A Transnational Dialogical Reflection on Indigenous, Black and Racial Justice Praxes (Tuesday, July 22nd, 12:10 to 1:10pm) led by Jesica Fernandez and contributors to the GJCPP special issueand Publish or Perish (Friday, June 25 - 1:25 pm to 2:20 pm EST) led by Ann Marie Beals, and Geri Palmer, Interim CERA Co-Chair and Past Co-Chair Dominique Thomas are scheduled speakers for the Closing Plenary Dismantling Oppression: Praxis of Disrupting Power on Saturday at 1:25pm.
If you are a member of CERA and sponsoring or co-sponsoring a session, please add it to the Google Link shown below.
For more information on days and times of sessions, please see the document here:


Meeting Dates:
Stay tune for meetings for October, November and December of 2021.

We are always on the lookout for new members! For more information or how to join, contact


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

In other News! 

  • The Community Psychologist - Please consider submitting your piece to the next issue of The Community Psychologist! Submit to:
  • Stay tuned for CERA's E-Newsletter which will be coming out again in December of 2020.  If you wish to be featured in the E-Newsletter, please let Jesica or Geri know. We are looking for students, faculty, and practitioners. It's a great way to feature your work, publish your thoughts and perspectives on current affairs, highlight events you want to publicize, and more!