Nov. 17, 2020
For Immediate Release
Waterloo – For its 17th annual Hunsberger Memorial Lecture, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Psychology is welcoming Assistant Professor Idil Abdillahi from the School of Social Work at Ryerson University to speak about the criminalization of mental illness in the Black community. Her lecture, “What’s wrong with Black folk? Trauma, Black psychiatrized madness, and the state’s response,” will be held on Nov. 20 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. via Zoom.
“We are very honoured to welcome activist, scholar and author Professor Idil Abdillahi to the Hunsberger Lecture Series,” said Ciann Wilson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. “This talk is on a timely and relevant topic, expanding discussions about mental health and psychology from the individual to the socio-structural level. This will be a very important talk for shedding light on how the issues of racism, mental health and state violence complexly impact Black communities, and will offer important insights for the experiences of other racialized communities in Canada as well.”
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees can join the webinar by clicking here (passcode 918558).
In her lecture, Abdillahi will be exploring the intersections of Black identity and mental health, as well as the ways the state reinforces anti-Black racism and discrimination against the mentally ill and its consequences.
Abdillahi has published on a wide array of topics, including mental health, poverty, HIV/AIDS and organizational development. Abdillahi’s research and scholarship on anti-Black racism and discrimination against the mentally ill has informed discussions on police shootings of Black people with mental illnesses. In 2017, her theorizing helped inform the inquest of Andrew Loku, who was shot by Toronto police in 2015.
Abdillahi has more than 15 years of direct experience in the social service sector. She has been a front-line social worker, supervisor, clinical educator, and has also served in leadership and governance roles. She is a founding member of the Black Legal Action Centre and currently serves as vice-chair of the board of directors. Abdillahi has been honoured with several awards and accolades for her work, including the prestigious Viola Desmond Award, which celebrates the achievements of Black Canadian Women.
Abdillahi is the co-author of BlackLife: Post-BLM and the Struggle for Freedom in 2019. She is currently working on an upcoming book, Blackened Madness: Medicalization and Black Everyday Life in Canada.
This is the Department of Psychology's 17th annual Bruce Hunsberger Lecture. Professor Bruce Hunsberger was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Laurier from 1974 to 2003 and served as the department chair for many years. He was an influential scholar in the field of the psychology of religion and a recipient of the William James Award from the American Psychological Association. The ongoing Hunsberger Lecture series was created to remember his lifelong commitment to communicating psychological research to a wide audience.
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