A Diversity Book Truly for EVERYONE: “Empowering Differences” by Ashley T Brundage

Ashley T Brundage, author of “Empowering Differences.”

As a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and trainer, I continue to lead with the positive message that every single person is a valuable part of our diversity tapestry, and that diversity is not about setting one group against another, but about all of us being in this together.  Yet so many people seem to fear diversity; that valuing and listening to people different from them will somehow make them “less than.”  I simply don’t get it.

And every single human being is comprised of their own unique combination of various diversity attributes.  The term intersectionality was coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap.

And now comes Ashley T Brundage’s new book, “Empowering Differences” where she explains how every single person should value every aspect of their diversity and leverage it for good.

Ashley first tells her own story of coming out as transgender woman and moving out of parent’s home at age 17 to be on her own.  She took on multiple jobs and long hours to fully support herself and worked her way up to a Boston Market store manager.  Ashley at a fairly young age did start a family and then embarked in her second career in banking, and quickly rose to become Vice President of Diversity at PNC Bank.  In her remarkable journey, Ashley discovered the power of leveraging her various dimensions of diversity instead of viewing certain characteristics as negatives.

In her book, Ashley then provides the four ground rules for empowering differences:

  • Knowing who you are
  • Knowing those around you
  • Using your differences strategically
  • Empowering others

Then a good portion of the book goes through various dimensions of diversity and how any attribute of a diversity area can be used for strategic advantage, and she provides short testimonials using a wide range of people.  Some of the dimensions include:

  • Empowering ability – whether you have no physical limitations or have disabilities
  • The value of age – whether you are younger, older or in between
  • Ethnicity – getting value out of being white or a person of color
  • Gender – leveraging your identity as female, male or nonbinary
  • And many more

The remaining sections then go into practical strategies for leveraging yours and others’ diversity, and then how to develop into a leader who can bring out the best in all the diverse people you interact with.

I highly recommend this practical and positive book.  Isn’t it time that we stop focusing on how differences divide us, but instead how a diverse team, community, country and world can achieve so much more when we all value each other and seek to bring out the best in ourselves and others?

To order Ashley’s book you can use this link: https://empoweringdifferences.com/product/empowering-differences-book/

 

Christopher Coleman – An extraordinary study in diversity intersectionality: Black, Disabled, Gay and Christian!

Christopher Coleman – Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author & Confidence-Builder

Twice when I traveled to Georgia for diversity events, I met an extraordinary inspirational young man named Christopher Coleman.

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 Coleman does not let his disability hold him back from doing ANYTHING!

This provided additional challenges and even more reasons to be rejected. But once again, Christopher overcame the odds to remain a leader in fostering all aspects of diversity and teaching others to overcome all challenges to live an unconfined life.

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.”