Session 5: Grappling with Cultural Humility for the Intersectional Person with Invisible Disabilities
September 24, 2019

“Invisible Disabilities is only one thread in the tapestry of the holistic lived experience of the intersectional person,” says ChrisTiana Obeysumner, presenter of this session. 


The “intersectional person” refers to how all of the threads of our tapestry—or the many overlapping identities we each have—come together in the design of our holistic being in the world. However, our society has a tendency to focus on one identity at a time, not how each of our identities are interwoven. 


With invisible disabilities, or any identity that is not lived “out loud,” losing sight of this extremely important thread and identity is more common that it should ever be. 


In this training, we will lead a conversation on invisible disabilities from the perspective of intersectionality, and with a lens of cultural humility. The workshop will include opportunities to hear from others who share these lived experiences, as well as cultural humility exercises to learn how you can sustain the tapestry of people with invisible and intersectional disabilities, not snare or snag through inequity.


Why is Cultural Humility such important learning for all equity and inclusion efforts? 


Cultural humility is the lifelong commitment to increasing awareness of self and our impacts on others through a praxis, (or cycle of practice) of four pillars: 


  1. Lifelong self evaluation and critique, 

  2. Lifelong learning and growth, 

  3. Evaluation of “power-over” dynamics, and elimination of those that are oppressive or marginalizing, and amplification and allyship to those most affected by inequity or injustice, and 

  4. Continually working to dismantle oppressive and harmful systems and dynamics.


“When it comes to intersectional disability justice, especially for folks with invisible disabilities, cultural humility is the foundation to create an equitable and inclusive workplace from the core outward,” says Ms. Obeysumner. Often, this topic focuses on how able-bodied or “neurotypical” (those who have minds and brains that fall within the ‘average) can empower, support, or encourage disabled or neurodivergent people in the workplace. But many people with disabilities feel they can take care of themselves—it’s others’ behavior and attitudes, or the workplace environment or systems, that become a barrier. This dynamic of “the social model of disability” is one of the main foundations for creating an equitable and inclusive workplace for people with invisible and intersectional disabilities. This workshop will provide tools for all employees and managers to move from well-intentioned to well-aware, and set accountability benchmarks and measures through culturally humble practices.


Learning Objectives:

At the end of this session, participants will:

  • Learn key connections between social equity, justice, invisible and intersectional disabilities

  • Acquire tools to increase awareness and mindfulness of one’s (un)conscious impacts that may create barriers for people with invisible and intersectional disabilities

  • Broaden their perspectives by listening to the relevant histories and narratives of the lived experiences of people with invisible and intersectional disabilities

  • Gain an overview of cultural humility and its importance in equitable inclusion

  • Discover tools and exercises for how to move toward a more inclusive and equitable workplace for people with invisible and intersectional disabilities.  


ChrisTiana ObeySumner, MNPL is a social equity advocate, educator, and consultant. They are the founders of Epiphanies of Equity: Education and Consulting, and The Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment. 


For almost two decades, they have dedicated their life and career to amplifying the importance of social equity -- particularly narrative identity development and it's role in cultural humility and allyship, intersectional disability justice, bringing awareness to the lived experience of racialized ableism and externalizing antiblackness, and dismantling the psychosocial paradigms that underlie social injustice and inaction. 


Their process is based in their lived experience as an Autistic and disabled, Black and Indigenous, Femme-presenting yet fluid person, as well as over a decade of formal study in social and existential psychology and counseling methods, nonprofit leadership, public policy and administration. They also hold several positions of community organizing leadership, including co-chairing the Seattle Renters and Seattle Disabilities Commissions, V.P. of Education for Seattle University's Black Alumni Association, and serving on the King County Metro Transit Advisory Council. 

NWDLS is Managed by:  The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion (ISDI)


ISDI is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of educating, supporting and collaborating with key stakeholders on ways to leverage differences and practice inclusion to enhance individual and organizational success.  


ISDI was founded in 2015 and assumed the management of the Northwest Diversity Learning Series in 2016, formerly managed by Archbright. Barbara Deane, the original NW Series co-founder, and Effenus Henderson, retired Chief Diversity Officer, Weyerhaeuser are the co-founders and directors of the Institute.  This is the 21st year of the NWDLS!


JOIN US in 2019 for the NW Diversity Learning Series:


(Please note: the order of topics and titles may shift slightly as we work with presenters.)

Session 6:  Communicating in Polarizing Times: Words Matter!, November 12