CSUN Hosts 2015’s Liberation Based Healing Conference


by Greg Foisie
The 10th annual Liberation Based Healing Conference (LBHC) will be held at California State University Northridge (CSUN) November 14th and 15th, 2015.  The conference is hosted by CSUN’s Department of Social Work, with many CSUN Departments contributing to its establishment.
The event’s website describes the first day of the conference as one reserved for paying attendees, with the registration fees allowing the organizers to keep the 2nd day FREE, and open to the general public.  Attendees must be registered to attend, even for the free day.  Visit the internet site http://www.instituteforfamilyservices.com/htm/conferences.html for current registration opportunities and additional information about the conference.  For more information about liberation based healing, go to liberationbasedhealing.org.
CSUN Professor Jose Miguel Paez MSW, LCSW has helped organize this two-day conference and serves as the greeter to the event.  At a previous community resource and art fair held in July, Professor Paez said this year’s LBHC is titled ìChallenging Inequities: Decolonizing Practices and Social Action.î  He mentioned that the conference is founded by The Institute for Family Services (IFS) based out of Somerset, NJ, and that the event offers ìstrategies that promote healing by interrupting oppressive societal structures with justice-based practices.î
Day one will provide opportunities to engage in critical dialogue with leaders toward implementing transformative practices,î including time with the Friday keynote presenter Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States with a talk titled ìHealing and the Colonial Condition.î  The second day will continue the dialogue focusing on innovative ways communities are applying liberation-based healing practices.
Day one provides a ceremonial opening by Fernandeo Tataviam Tribal President Rudy Ortega, Jr.  Panel 1 is on human rights and educational systems moderated by Diana Melendez, MSW, LCSW and Doctors for Global Health Willie Tolliver, MSW, PhD and Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD .  A second panel on gender-based violence is moderated by Gita Mehrotra, MSW, PhD and panelists Mimi Kim, MSW, PhD, Kimberly Robertson, PhD of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and Amita Swadhin, MPA
The 3rd panel is on transformative therapeutic practices is to be moderated by Professor Paez, MSW, LCSW with panelists Lisa Dressner, MSW, LCSW, Andra Brown, PhD, LMFT, Rhea Almeida, MS, PhD, LCSW, Founder of IFS, and Eunjung Ryu, PhD, LMFT, LCSW, ACSW.  There will be a closing ceremony by Yaotl Mazahua, MSW student, and Joe Galarza, both of Aztlan Underground.
Saturday’s activities include an opening performance created and presented by participants of the Pico Youth & Family Center of Santa Monica. The day’s first panel will look at state-sanctioned violence and police surveillance.  It will be moderated by Kaiya Bailey, MSW and Maxine Amondo, MSW Student featuring panelists from the Youth Justice Coalition and Kenny Green, GRYD, Community Intervention Worker and Project Director at Toberman.  A second panel on environmental justice with Nocona Pewewardy, MSW, PhD hosting Alma Trinidad, MSW, PhD, Diana Melendez, MSW, LCSW, and Cornel Pewewardy, PhD (Comanche-Kiowa) as panelists. The 3rd panel  on creative paths to liberation will address creative paths to liberation through the use of social media, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience.  It will be moderated by Mabel Quiones, PhD and feature Zahra Billoo, Esq., Civil Rights Attorney, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), Dawn Modkins from BlackLivesMatter and Humberto Solis from Queer Invasion.
Saturday will feature two keynote addresses.  The first is ìEvolution and the Politics of Changeî to be moderated by AndraÈ Brown, PhD, LMFT, with two presentations by  Rhea Almeida, MS, PhD, LCSW – Founder of The Institute for Family Services – and the Grammy Award winning music producer, recording artist, philanthropist, activist, actor, and founder of Heal the Hood David Banner.  The second keynote address is titled ìTrauma, Kinship, Justice, Social Actionî and will be delivered by Father Greg Boyle, Founder & Executive Director, Homeboy Industries, to be moderated by Professor Paez.  Father Boyle is well known for his work in support of gang members seeking to re-establish themselves from gang life.
The hours of the conference are Friday, November 13th and Saturday, November 14th from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM (PST) each day.  The conference address is California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330.  Lunch is provided both days and this event.  The conference also offers 16 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to professionals, and these options are still available as of this printing until November 13th.  See the conference website for more details on the CEUs.

Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” will speak on ìHealing and the Colonial Condition.î The mainstream media as well as health professionals regularly expose and denounce the poverty and social dysfunction found in Indigenous communities, whether urban or rural.  Rates of alcoholism and suicide are far higher than national averages. They avoid confronting the circumstances that reproduce Indigenous and Black poverty and social scarring– the colonial condition in which the US maintains the structures of settler-colonialism. In continuing to disregard treaty rights and deny restoration of sacred lands, the ongoing US settler-colonial regime prevents Indigenous peoples from performing their most elemental responsibilities as inscribed in their cultural and religious teaching.  In other words, sovereignty equates to survival–nationhood instead of genocide.  And, the social and political denial of the continued effects of chattel slavery and the reproduction of white supremacy on subsequent generations of African-Americans can be seen in the refusal to take up the case for reparations.  Poverty and dysfunction are the results.
There is an LBHC After Party at the Orange Grove Bistro on the CSUN Campus from 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm.  Tickets to this party are FREE to the public.  There will be a beer/wine cash bar and light snacks, with performances by the amazing Aztlan Underground, Street Poets, and other artists.


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