As a psychologist and an academic, I aim to use my scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and consultations to help people recognize and move through the pain of understanding and experiencing social inequities in order to transform that pain into social justice action. In my work, I aim to foster understanding that everyday moments in our lives are choices that either compound the pain of injustice or contribute to healing for individuals and our society. This understanding is particularly important in educating and training human service professionals and educators, where the positive or negative effects of such choices are magnified through their effect on service provision, teaching, modeling, and organizational policy. Through fostering and demonstrating the effects of empathy and agency, I hope to contribute in some small way to creating a better and more just world.
This website aims to share a bit of my approach to that, as well as offer resources or information that may be helpful to others’ contributions. Because I also believe that foundational elements of trying to live social justice include positionality, honesty, and transparency, in the following pages you will find not only the usual descriptions of my teaching, scholarship, and community coaction activities, but also my reflections on intention and purpose. These are, of course, always a work in progress. I welcome your feedback on my work.
Karen L. Suyemoto, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Asian American Studies and Critical Ethnic and Community Studies programs program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her professional activities are primarily guided by her commitment to contributing to social justice and empowering those who have been oppressed, marginalized, or silenced. She is particularly interested in how people resist racism and promote equity and justice, individually or through education or community interventions. Specifically, her teaching, research, and consultations focus on three interrelated areas: (a) understanding the effects of race and racism on mental health and identity; (b) examining experiences and effects of advocacy and resistance against racism; and (c) exploring how cultural responsiveness and racial social justice can be developed through and integrated into education and psychological practice, training, and research.
Current research projects include a 2 book project focused on teaching and learning about race, oppression, privilege, and intersectional statuses, and a quantitative survey project examining how resisting or challenging racism personally or systemically may moderate the negative psychological effects of experiencing racism for people of color. Previous work has focused on inter-minority race relations, ally and advocacy development, training psychologists for cultural sensitivity, teaching for transformation and social justice, and feminist applications and connections with multicultural understandings in psychotherapy. Foci of recent graduate students within her research team include strategies for negotiating discrimination for Asian American women leaders, intergenerational values and mental health stigma in Asian Americans; the moderating effects of internalized racism on the relation of interpersonal racism and mental health for Asian Americans; and the development of White ally stances and action. Her scholarship includes two books, more than 50 articles and chapters, and over 100 conference presentations or posters, frequently in collaboration with students.
Dr. Suyemoto has contributed leadership and service to national and regional associations such as the New England Center for Inclusive Teaching, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program. She has served as President of the national Asian American Psychological Association [AAPA] and was one of the first co-chairs of the AAPA Division on Women. She recently (2014 to 2017) served as AAPA’s delegate to the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives and chaired the APA Task Force developing the new Guidelines for Race and Ethnicity in Psychology. She has served on the editorial board of the Asian American Journal of Psychology, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the American Educational Research Journal.
In 2019, she received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has been honored through selection as the Donahue Distinguished Scholar (2016-2017), as the inaugural recipient of the Joan H. Liem Award for Outstanding Doctoral Mentoring (2012), and as a recipient of the Asian American Psychological Association's Distinguished Contributions (2013). In 2013, she was recognized as a White House (Obama Administration) Champion of Change: Asian American Pacific Islander Women.
Dr. Suyemoto is a licensed psychologist who provides diversity consultation, training, and mentoring both locally and nationally. Her consultation work particularly focuses on how ethnocultural responsiveness and racial justice can be developed through and integrated into education and community interactions; improving racial and ethnocultural responsiveness in psychological practice, research, and training; and empowering people of color for positive responses to oppression.