Christopher was pronounced dead at birth, and after 15 minutes without oxygen to his brain, his wails filled the room the moment his twin sister entered the world. Chris was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, and doctors told Christopher’s family that this condition would prevent their son from ever moving, talking or even thinking for himself.
As a youngster, Christopher was not given the opportunity to learn, but most often placed in a corner is special education classes and ignored the entire day. But young Christopher was determined, and at night would sneak his sister’s text books out of her room and teach himself to read. When 15, at the insistence of his mother, Christopher started attending mainstream high school and graduated 5th in his class of 360 seniors. And he was the first member of his family to attend college and graduated with a Bachelor of Communication.
Christopher became a life coach, author and motivational speaker through his “Unconfined Life Institute,” sharing the challenges he overcame with his trifecta of being a disabled black Christian in the South. But for several years and those extraordinary challenges, he hid a fourth aspect of his diversity. Then at age 38, Christopher decided to be true to himself, and come out as a gay, black, disabled Christian man.
Christopher is very articulate in discussing the intersections of diversity. He shares that in some circles, he can be accepted as black and gay, but rejected since he uses a motorized wheelchair and speaks with difficulty. In some circles, everyone is fine with him being a gay disabled man, but rejects him because of his race. And in other circles, it is fine to be a black, disabled Christian, but not gay. His story and life underscore the importance of each of us appreciating the full and many diversity attributes each individual brings into the world.
And diversity intersectionality is becoming increasing prevalent in our globally connected multi-cultural world, and much more understood and embraced by the new generation of adults.
Please check out Christopher Coleman’s website, http://christophercoleman.net/ to learn more about him and his work. Engage with him! He can have a powerful impact on your life, team or organization. Contact him via LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherdeoncoleman/ or call 678-756-5212
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Check out my earlier blog series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
And check out my blog featuring a resource on cerebral palsy, “An excellent resource (and writer): Cerebral Palsy Guidance and Alex Diaz-Granados.”