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Statement from Nkem Ndefo regarding Mark Walsh and The Embodiment Conference

By November 8, 20202 Comments

There has been a lot of conversation about the Embodiment Conference in the trauma healing world. I had initial reservations about presenting until I verified the diversity of the line up and read a fairly decent diversity and inclusion statement. I also asked to speak with Mark Walsh directly and share a few concerns I had heard about past transphobic comments. When we spoke back in the summer, he was humble and shared interest in genuinely learning more about identities other than his own and about systems of oppression. It was a brief conversation and I left it at that. I did a presentation on accessibility and a panel on resilience.

After the conference, Walsh posted a thoroughly mean-spirited rant dripping in contempt for anti oppression and threatening retribution against anyone levying critique now that he has “fuck you” money from the conference’s success (see below). He then posted again laughing off the original post as “semi-serious” coupled with a litany of excuses and blame-shifting.

I refuse to be associated with this man and his conference. I asked that my presentation video be taken down and my name and face removed from the site and all ads. Walsh tried to talk me into staying by saying that I would be deplatforming myself, insinuating that I didn’t have a platform anywhere else. Even if that were true, I will not be anyone’s diversity shield. Let there be natural consequences for his behavior. Walsh complied with my request yesterday. The panel is still up but a statement of my non-involvement is attached.

The movement to heal trauma is by definition a whole body all person movement for liberation and against oppression. The corruption and cooptation for profit by Walsh and his conference is disgusting. I encourage people to reconsider their involvement and support.

– Nkem Ndefo

2 Comments

  • Marie Graw says:

    So, so sad.

  • Astrid Jones says:

    Dear Nkem,
    Thank you for sharing your statement and for the actions you took to distance yourself from Mark Walsh and the Embodiment Conference. As a Black dance movement therapist with personal and professional interest in the field, I supported the conference by listening to quite a few of the speakers, but thankfully did not invest financially. I am also glad to hear that there has been an open letter to de-platform Mark Walsh that is now circulating and gaining support: https://notomarkwalsh.medium.com/we-need-to-de-platform-mark-walsh-and-the-embodiment-conference-59f5addf943
    Unfortunately, the post above is one in a long line of disgusting comments that apparently span several years. I was left literally physically nauseated after reading some of Mark’s past and recent social media posts, particularly those that included terms such as “social justice terrorism”, “neoleft nazi” (in reference to a photo of a Black woman putting her body on the front line for social justice), as well as his sexist, chauvinist language, his description of “tribal” people as “utter bastards”, and his denigration of Islam, among so many other disturbing comments. And all the while, as you pointed out, making excuses for his views, such as “I am human and I have bad days”, and using the language of white fragility to deflect criticism. I hope that more presenters and people involved with the conference do speak out and withdraw their support. I couldn’t agree more with your comments, and hope that there are consequences as a result of Mark Walsh’s appalling and repulsive words and actions.
    Best wishes,
    Astrid Jones
    (Toolkit Practice Group)

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