Neurodiversity – The Missing Ingredient to Your DEI Strategy

Yvonne Cowser Yancy

By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

As diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) measures and programs become standard practice in the workplace there is an often overlooked and underrepresented employee population that continues to fall through the cracks of many programs: the neurodivergent. During an era of reckoning and reconciliation in the American workforce, we encourage you to make sure every voice has a seat at the table and an opportunity to be heard. For more insight, the Black EOE Journal interviewed Yvonne Cowser Yancy, Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Workplace at Understood, a social impact nonprofit and long-term resource and support space for neurodivergent employees. Their recent report, “Employee DEI Experience Study” yielded some revealing results regarding how American workers regard their employers’ DEI efforts.

Black EOE Journal (BEOEJ): What made Understood commission this report? How was the information collected? What was its ultimate goal?

Yvonne Cowser Yancy (YCY): Understood is a social impact organization focused on the 1 in 5 individuals in the U.S. who have learning and thinking differences. Because there are 70 million people in the workplace that live with these invisible differences, Understood fielded this study with [The Harris Poll] to gain insights on how all employees view their companies’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and specifically, to unearth whether they are receiving the support they need in order to excel at their employment experience. Through the findings, we discovered learnings for the great things happening at workplaces and the areas of opportunities. The way we work, and the trends of employment, have changed over the past few years. Through this study, we wanted to see how today’s workplace trends have impacted how people work. The fact of the matter is that people are thinking more thoughtfully about where they want to work and how they want to work. For employers, that means it’s harder to find talent and keep talent. We at Understood want to make sure employers take the steps needed to ensure they have spaces where people want to work, and ultimately thrive.

BEOEJ: What were the biggest takeaways from the “Employee DEI Experience Study” report? What do you hope the public, small businesses and corporations will do with this information?

YCY: The positive news is that most people we surveyed who are at work find that their employers are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The opportunity is that roughly a third of the people surveyed talked about struggling to have the tools and support they needed to be effective at work. A little more than half of the people in our survey asked for accommodations in order to do their jobs better but had not received them. For employers, that means they are not getting the output they’d hoped to receive and for employees that means they’re not getting the experience they thought they were going to have. The opportunity is for employers to create supportive spaces for the talented professionals they’ve selected for these jobs. We want to make sure the relationship between employer and employee remains positive. This becomes especially important when you add in the context of how hard it is to find talented people and how people are being thoughtful about finding employers where they can really excel. Organizations must take action to support neurodivergent individuals at work in order to attract and retain talent, reduce the stigma around neurodiversity and create a workplace and culture where everyone can thrive. Proactively offering accommodations — such as flexible work schedules, additional training time and dual written and verbal content — is a powerful and necessary way to help support employees with physical and invisible disabilities.

Understood InfographicBEOEJ: How can businesses and suppliers owned and operated by those with disabilities use this information to make a difference or to negotiate more and better contracts?

YCY: The first step is having access to the knowledge and data needed in order to advocate for oneself. We hope that employees with learning and thinking differences will use these findings as inspiration to disclose their learning and thinking differences, and to request the proper accommodations they need.

Through this study we know there is a need for awareness, education and training on neurodiversity. In fact, our study found that only 47 percent of employees say their employers support neurodivergent individuals.

To combat this shortfall, businesses need to actively seek out employers with supplier diversity programs and initiatives which support employees with disabilities. We at Understood have launched a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offering that includes on-demand and virtual live disability inclusion training, as well as workplace assessment and action plan services for employers invested in building inclusive workplaces. This allows employers to have the resources needed to accommodate those with learning and thinking differences and it equips employees with the tools they need to excel. In the end, we want this to be the start of bridging gaps and helping to meet expectations on both sides.

For more information about Understood and resources related to living and working with neurodivergence, visit

Yvonne Cowser Yancy Photo Caption/Credit: Yvonne Cowser Yancy, Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Workplace, Understood (Courtesy of

Infographic Caption/Credit: The Harris Poll conducted an online survey among 1,125 employed U.S adults in March 2022 to uncover employees’ attitudes and experiences regarding their workplaces’ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. (Courtesy of

Inclusion for Disabilities. Inclusion for All

collage of actors with disabilities

This coming Black History Month, we want to recognize some of the individuals who have been making momentous strides to fight for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and differences.

Here are some of the changemakers:

Aaron Philip Rose

(Pictured top right) At just 21 years old, model and author, Aaron Rose Philip is the first Black, transgender and physically disabled model to ever be represented by a major modeling agency. She has not only worked with some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, working with Marc Jacobs, Moschino and Vogue on a regular basis, but she also authors several articles in notable publications to advocate for inclusion in her industry.

Philip, who has cerebral palsy and identifies as a transgender woman, has additionally worked with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Samantha Bee, Naomi Campbell and Beyoncé to provide representation for an even larger audience. This year, she made history by becoming the first model to use a wheelchair to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

“People can no longer say it’s just a small moment in time,” Philip told Vogue of her modeling work, “It’s done and look at how normal it looks now that it has happened. Look at how good and popular and cool it is. My vision isn’t complicated; I’m just a 20-something-year-old, and I’m a model who’s ready to work.”

Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images
Sources: Vogue, Wikipedia


(Pictured bottom left) Gaining millions of streams across platforms and in the media, Lachi’s music can be heard in numerous television, film, radio and other media spots of various sorts. But Lachi is more than just a talented musician, she is an advocate for inclusion in the music industry, using her own experiences with vision loss to break barriers. In 2017, Lachi began using her platform to speak and perform regularly at Disability Pride events and festivals — working to promote disability representation and inclusion in media and advocating for disability visibility on national diversity and inclusion panels. In 2021, she took her advocacy a step further by founding the Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD) coalition, a group of creators and professionals with disabilities working to make musical events more inclusive and accessible to people of disabilities. They have since worked with numerous organizations and events to not only promote disability inclusion, but to actively make events more accessible.

Their most well-known partnership was with the 64th Grammy Awards, which ensured that the show has a visible ramp to the stage, ASL interpretation on the red carpet and live caption and audio description for viewers at home. “I’m walking full force into advocacy for the disabled,” Lachi said in an interview with Respectability, “with music and entertainment as my vehicle.”

Photo Credit: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images The Meteor
Sources: Respectability, Wikipedia

Haben Girma

(Pictured bottom right) Haben Girma has been advocating for herself since she attended elementary school in Oakland, California. After advocating for her right to choose her own meals at her undergraduate university, after being denied the privilege for being a deafblind person, Girma decided that she wanted to become an advocate for people with disabilities. In 2013, Girma graduated from Harvard Law School, becoming the first deafblind person to ever do so. She used her knowledge and experiences to become a civil rights advocate for disability rights and a public speaker who travels the country changing people’s perceptions of the disability community in the media. Besides speaking on behalf of the importance of representation, Girma is a passionate advocate for educational equality for people with disabilities.

Her work to foster equity and inclusion has earned her partnerships with several organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind, and many prestigious honors from Forbes 30 under 30 and the Obama Administration.

Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic
Sources: Wikipedia, Respectability

Montel Williams

(Pictured bottom middle) You may know Montel Williams from one of his numerous television or film appearances, but when he isn’t on camera, Williams is dedicated to giving back to his various communities, one of which is for multiple sclerosis (MS). In 1999, Williams was diagnosed with MS, within that same year he founded the Montel Williams MS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that finances organizations and institutions working to research, raise awareness and educate the public about multiple sclerosis. Since his diagnoses, Williams decided to turn his focus and outreach to health and wellness related issues. He began writing a series of books where he openly spoke on his experiences, used his interview opportunities to bring awareness to MS and eventually co-created the Partnership For Prescription Assistance, a program connecting uninsured and underinsured people with programs that provide lower-cost medicines.

Today, Williams dedicates much of his work towards spreading awareness and providing assistance, finding new opportunities to create conversations and form further partnerships into MS research.

Photo Credit: Lars Niki/Getty Images for Athena Film Festival
Sources: Wikipedia, Montel Williams MS Foundation, MM+M

Clarence Page

(Pictured top left) Page is a highly accomplished journalist, Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist for the Tribune network. His work has been showcased in some of the biggest news outlets in the country such as the Chicago Tribune, NBC, ABC and BET’s Lead Story. He is also an African American who identifies as having Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), which can affect basic functioning due to hyperactivity and a pattern of inattention. As one of the 28 percent of African and Black Americans with disabilities to be employed in the United States, Page uses his platform to not only normalize having ADHD in the workplace, but to break down misconceptions around the condition. In fact, Page thinks that having ADHD helped him become a successful journalist. “I have a tireless curiosity about people in general, and I love to find interesting stories,” he stated in an interview with Respectability. “I’m no expert, but those characteristics seem to go productively well with the symptoms of ADHD.” Page has also spoken openly about the intersectionality of being Black and having ADHD in his book, Positively ADD, where he discusses about ADHD isn’t “wrong” or “bad,” but a different way of the brain working.

“Think of your diagnosis not as a ceiling on your abilities but as a floor beneath your opportunities,” Page says to others with ADHD, “Never use your condition as an excuse to avoid trying new tasks and pursuing new goals. Face reality: You always will face different challenges from most other people. But you also have more opportunities than any previous generation.”

Photo Credit:Kris Connor/Getty Images

DC-Area Man Signs National Anthem in American Sign Language at Super Bowl 55

Warren Snipe wearing a black t-shirt up close shot

As stars Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan belted out the national anthem at the Super Bowl, a trailblazing Gallaudet University graduate communicated the emotion, lyrics and rhythm to viewers in American Sign Language.

Warren Snipe, known by his stage name Wawa, signed H.E.R.’s rendition of “America the Beautiful” and later “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The best performance to start the #superbowl is Warren Snipe with the ASL Star Spangled Banner. I don’t sign but I want to learn now! #SuperBowl2021,” Twitter user @PforPatrick said on the platform.

Prior to his performance, Wawa provided a behind-the-scenes look at his day on his Facebook page. He shared his arrival to his trailer and said he ran into Russell and Ciara Wilson in the stadium tunnel.

Wawa is from the D.C. area and graduated from Gallaudet University, a private school whose mission is to empower deaf and hard of hearing students.

He went on to develop his own niche within the hip-hop genre, called Dip Hop, which he defines as “Hip Hop through deaf eyes,” according to a press release.

“His unique rendering of Dip Hop explores Hip Hop through a mesmerizing blend of audio and imagery, and seeks to put Deaf recording artists on the map in the mainstream public interest,” the release reads.

In 2016, Wawa released an album called “Deaf: So What?!” He is also known for his role in the television series “Black Lightning.”

Read the original article at NBC Los Angeles.

A Lifetime of Service

Montel Williams has served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

By Brady Rhoades

Montel Williams served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

Through Military Makeover, which he produces and hosts, the Emmy-award winning TV icon has transformed the homes and lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. The show, which airs on Lifetime TV and AFN, has produced some of the most memorable moments in TV history.

In a February, 2020 episode, Montel and the Military Makeover crew helped Debi, the Gold Star widow of Operation Desert Storm veteran Chris Hixon, who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Florida while rushing in and trying to disarm the killer.

They stepped in two years after the school shooting that killed Chris and 16 others and made Debi and her two children’s lives a little brighter by, among other things, renovating her kitchen and installing long, floating shelves in several rooms. Debi placed photographs of Chris on those shelves.

Montel — no last name necessary for most people — lives by a simple creed that he learned in boot camp: “We leave no Marine behind,” he says. “I bought into the fact that once a Marine, always a Marine.”

TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City.
TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Montel was the first Black Marine selected to the Naval Academy Prep School to then go on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

“In the nearly three decades since I retired from the Navy, I’ve never really taken the uniform off because standing up for those who are serving now—and those who have served—has been the greatest honor of my professional career,” he says,

Most recently, the husband and father of four joined The Balancing Act, also on Lifetime TV, as a co-host. Before that, he shot to stardom on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 to 2008, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Military Roots
There’s a lot of tinsel that goes with Hollywood fame, but beneath it are roots, and Montel’s are deep and resilient. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1974. He then graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980 with a degree in engineering and a minor in international security affairs.

Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

He completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training, and spent 18 months in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence. He was later a supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. He left the Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

As part of his work in cryptology, Montel teamed with the National Security Agency and was involved in the victory in Grenada in 1983. On several occasions, Montel has worked to get United States citizens — usually military personnel who have been captured in foreign lands — returned to America.

In the 1990s and early part of the 2000s, The Montel Williams Show was synonymous with excellence, empathy and intelligence. Some argue Montel is on the “Mt. Rushmore” of day-time talk show legends, alongside Oprah and others.

In 1999, after years of excruciating pain that, at times, had him crying during commercial breaks, Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was bad and good news all at once — bad because MS is painful and debilitating; good because he finally knew what was ailing him and could move forward with treatment.

More than two decades after his diagnosis, Montel lives an active, purposeful life. A fun one, too. One of his favorite activities is snowboarding, which he says helps his balance in day-to-day living.

A Healthy Balance

Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.
From left: Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.

Balance is what makes him a perfect fit for The Balancing Act, a morning show that empowers viewers to live balanced, healthy lives. Montel, who suffered a stroke in 2018, and just keeps going like the Eveready Battery, knows a thing or two about balance. If success is measured by how many people you’ve helped, Montel is rich beyond his monetary millions and accomplished far beyond his worldwide fame.
He goes back again and again to those values he learned in boot camp. Take the following episode of Military Makeover:

After Aaron and Holly Middleton met at a Columbus bar after graduating Ohio State University, it was love at first sight. Though unfamiliar with the rigors of military family life, Holly went all in, giving up her own career to find fulfillment as a mother. Aaron is now a major and senior communications officer serving at USMC Forces Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The family has faced overwhelming adversity. First, their newborn son, Kelvin, was diagnosed with holes in his lungs, requiring immediate surgeries. Then, unspeakable tragedy struck the family when the Middleton’s’ 5-year-old daughter Scarlett died from an undiagnosed illness.

Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”
From left: Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”

The shock and trauma of Scarlett’s passing has shaken the family to its core. Scarlett loved picking and giving away flowers, and her favorite song was, “You Are My Sunshine.” Through pain and inspiration, Holly promised to keep alive the joy Scarlett brought to everybody who knew her. The grieving mother created a charity called Scarlett’s Sunshine, using random acts of kindness with flowers to induce spontaneous smiles.

“Little did I know that when I gave people the flowers, and I saw the gratitude on their faces light up, that I would see Scarlett’s light again,” Holly says. “I found her light.” The Middletons’ home in St. Petersburg— the first they’ve owned since Aaron joined the Corps— needed a lot of help. Military Makeover worked to make it a place of healing and solace for this deserving military family.

As the cherry on top, the show donated a year’s worth of flowers to Scarlett’s Sunshine. “It feels like a miracle,” Holly said, when presented with the flowers. Which brought a smile to Montel’s face.

That’s the miracle of Montel’s life, which mirrors the lives of all U.S. veterans.

On Being Black and ‘Disabled but Not Really’

Smiling multiracial friends talk using sign language

Despite the criticism of the episode, Hamilton’s appearance on Queer Eye felt like a step in the right direction for better representation of the diversity of disabled people.

By Imani Barbarin

I’m in a car with my cousin, who is driving but sitting with a rolling pin from my kitchen directly beneath their hip. “Please see a doctor,” I say for the second, or maybe third, time. “It could be something serious. It’s OK to be disabled and need help,” I add.

“I don’t claim that,” my cousin replies.

My cousin is like other Black people who couch their disability (or ignore it entirely) for one reason: survival.

I was reminded of this exchange after watching a new episode of Netflix’s Queer Eye, called “Disabled but Not Really.” The season 4 episode, which features a 30-year-old Black man in a wheelchair as one of the Fab Five’s clients, has become a topic of much contention in the disability community. Yet many critical perspectives lack insight from disabled Black people. For example, many white disabled people feel like the title of the episode—derived from the name of the nonprofit organization founded by Wesley Hamilton, the man featured in the episode—is spreading internalized ableism and perpetuating a culture of shame around the disabled identity. But Black people have a long history of hiding ailments for fear of dire consequences.

Often disability is kept as a side note to a Black person’s identity for fear that references to any impairment might be taken as weakness. Harriet Tubman suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a slave overseer. Fannie Lou Hamer had polio as a child. Maya Angelou had selective mutism. Yet, when we talk about our heroes as Black people, we rarely, if ever, mention the disabilities they lived with. Many current Black celebrities and leaders with disabilities feel they can only become successful by ignoring or showing they can overcome their diagnoses. It is still a shock to some that Stevie Wonder reads braille.

In his episode with the Fab Five, we learn that Hamilton’s organization is focused on getting disabled people into CrossFit and bodybuilding. Remarkably, we learn this in a scene in which he is surrounded by disabled Black men. It is rare that spaces for disabled Black people exist at all; I was in my 20s before I came across one, and I was so overwhelmed, I spent most of the time there trying not to cry.

The Disabled but Not Really website explains that its mission is to empower people to embrace a “limitless mindset,” one in which people with disabilities “know they are more than their circumstances.” The organization supports personal development with programs like the #HelpMeFit challenge, which pairs coaches with disabled people to enhance their fitness and nutrition beyond what the participants believe is possible.

Considering the ways in which ableism is used to perpetuate racism, the concept of “disabled but not really” is necessary for Hamilton to encourage other disabled Black people to access the support they need. For many people of color, claiming a disabled body and existence can feel like just another piece of their identity that can be used to marginalize them. And though it seems like internalized ableism or self-hatred to many white people with disabilities when people of color don’t claim the “disabled” label, Black, indigenous, and people of color are right to feel that way.

Black disabled people, for example, experience a unique form of racist micro- and macro-aggressions that sway into the realm of ableism. People who need supports like Medicare, Medicaid, or food stamps are “welfare queens.” Disabled Black people hear speculation as to whether they’re “crack babies,” a misleading and deeply problematic concept. Black people in search of medical care are “just looking for drugs.” Even run-of-the mill racism is steeped in ableist language: “Black people cannot think or vote for themselves” or “Black people don’t have the intelligence to have built pyramids; it has to have been aliens.”

What Hamilton seems to understand is that in order to reach the disabled people in the community that he wants to serve, he must wheel a very fine line: He needs to talk about disability in such a way that Black people don’t feel further disenfranchised by recognizing it within themselves. Because of factors like environmental, structural, and implicit racism, as well as violent acts and poverty, Black people are one of the most likely demographics to develop disabilities. Just getting them to a supportive space can be a hurdle.

As a proud disabled Black advocate, I come across many people who try to erase my disability and think that by talking about it I am alienating the very people I need. This hurts most when it comes from my own community: Black people. From them I am told that I am already Black: “Why give them another reason to shut the door in your face.”

Black people are raised to acknowledge that every system they encounter is stacked against them. “You have to try twice as hard to get half as far,” “they are all waiting for you to fail,” and “you don’t get second chances” are shared by parents and community elders along with bedtime stories and warm milk. Any sense of vulnerability feels like a weapon that can be turned against oneself, rather than a source of strength or power.

Given Hamilton’s background—his time spent in a gang and how it led to disability—he is well aware of the racism disabled Black people face and the desire to have one less “ism” to contend with. But what’s especially powerful in his Queer Eye episode is the way Hamilton celebrates himself and his body. Never once in the episode did he begrudge his disability. Instead, he actively honored where he was mentally, as his organization encourages its participants to do.

In the episode, Hamilton also recognizes his mother, Dawn, unmasking the role parents can play in the lives of their loved ones with disabilities. Dawn was his caretaker and support system after the altercation that paralyzed him from the waist down at age 24. Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown talked with her about the sacrifices she made to care for her son. Disabled people never appreciate feeling like the burden in their loved ones’ lives. It is a stereotype that we are actively fighting against because so often, it can lead to harmful and dangerous behaviors. But, given the way many Black women and femmes so readily step in as caretakers and providers (not just for family members, but for entire communities), it makes sense why Brown would want Hamilton to actively “release” his mom with a “thank you.”

In a quintessential Karamo moment, he takes Dawn aside and discusses what her life has been like since her son’s injury. Acknowledging the difficulty they both have faced, Dawn breaks down into tears and admits they’re ready for a new chapter to begin.

Admittedly, this moment is uncomfortable for me to contend with. On the one hand, as a disabled Black woman I recognize the magnitude of responsibility that is placed upon Black women and femmes. But as a disabled person, it is insulting to be so inundated with the message that we decrease quality of life for the people around us. Even after watching the episode several times, I have no idea how I feel about that moment.

Hamilton’s role as a single father is also on full display in this episode. Given reports that parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities have their children removed from their care at rates as high as 80 percent, and knowing the stereotypes of Black fathers as “deadbeats,” Hamilton being seen as a father was critical to breaking down biases regarding the capability of Black disabled people. In watching his story, we see his daughter, Nevaeh, a chipper child of about 10 years old, marvel at the changes her father is going through with the aid of the Fab Five. She lovingly encourages her dad, and he is shown as an active figure in her life.

Despite the criticism of the episode, Hamilton’s appearance on Queer Eye felt like a step in the right direction for better representations of the diversity of disabled people. He may not have shouted loudly about his disability status, but he was still able to highlight an experience the disabled Black community needs to see acknowledged in mainstream television. He was proud of who he was and felt that his disability had saved his life. Rather than mourn his abled body for a national audience, he claimed it and gave thanks for it.

Importantly, the episode is an open invitation to Black disabled people to accept themselves as they are and seek joy in their disabled bodies. Hamilton’s language regarding his experiences should not be policed for the comfort of white disabled people or anyone else. Hamilton is just trying to get the Black disabled community through the door because, while many of them refuse to “claim disability,” disability so often claims them.

Source: Rewire.News

Nigerian artist makes dark skin prosthetics to boost patients’ confidence

mans hand wearing a dark skin prosthetic

Michael Sunday is delighted, if a little stunned, as he admires his new right hand: a silicone glove-like prosthetic meant to help him return to normal life after he lost three fingers in a car accident a year ago.

The prosthetic has a hyper-realistic feel and, unusually, is dark in color, matching perfectly the tone of Sunday’s skin.

Most fake body parts available in Nigeria until now have been white, or made from materials such as wood that also look unrealistic.

“Wow, this is lovely,” Sunday said, his voice choked with emotion, as he looked at the prosthetic for the first time.

“I have my fingers back,” said the 22-year-old student, who lost the thumb and fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand when the car he was riding in with his parents on Dec. 31, 2018, collided with another vehicle.

The artist behind the creation is John Amanam, a 32-year-old former movie special effects expert. He developed an interest in prosthetics after a family member lost a limb in an accident.

“I became emotional about amputees,” said Amanam, who is also Nigerian.

“They had this feeling of discomfort whenever they were around other people. I saw it as a challenge. If I could give back or solve this need, it would go a long way to ease that emotional trauma and loss of confidence,” he added.

“I just want them to feel at home and be whole, aesthetically.”

So he started making prosthetic fingers, hands, arms, legs and ears in 2017. Depending on the size and complexity of the prosthetic, it takes three weeks to two months to make one.

Amanam has no formal training in making prosthetics but studied sculpting as an art student. The pieces are sold for at least 40,000 naira ($111).

His company, Immortal Cosmetic Art, is part of a growing services industry that has helped Nigeria’s economy become the biggest in Africa.

Amanam said mismatched skin tone makes it more difficult for people to feel confident with their artificial limbs.

To prepare Sunday’s hand, he took measurements, made a plaster cast and mixed paints on a palette, as any artist would, searching for the right skin tone. The result was lifelike.

“You rarely find people with black skin prosthetics,” Amanam said. “I want this need to be met within Africa. I want to reach out to blacks all over the world as well, by making this process accessible, at an affordable rate.”

Continue on to Reuters to read the complete article.

17-Year-Old Armani Williams Is NASCAR’s First Driver With Autism

Armani Williams pictured smiling and sitting in NASCAR racecar

Armani Williams was born in Michigan and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2. Like many children with autism, he was nonverbal during his early years. Autism is a brain disorder that affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, 1 in 42 males, and means lifelong challenges in learning, socialization, and behavior, as well as many associated medical problems.

Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is the fastest growing developmental disability. Given these epidemic numbers in the United States, almost every individual knows or cares about someone who is affected by autism.

Armani presented with extreme struggles just participating in daily life with his peers, but when he began racing at age 8 a light switch was turned on. At the end of the first session, Armani stated, “Dad, I understand.” From that moment, Armani’s family recognized that he had a special ability to drive and that they would do anything to make it happen.

Armani Williams was born in Michigan and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2. Like many children with autism, he was nonverbal during his early years. Autism is a brain disorder that affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, 1 in 42 males, and means lifelong challenges in learning, socialization, and behavior, as well as many associated medical problems.

Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is the fastest growing developmental disability. Given these epidemic numbers in the United States, almost every individual knows or cares about someone who is affected by autism.

Armani presented with extreme struggles just participating in daily life with his peers, but when he began racing at age 8 a light switch was turned on. At the end of the first session, Armani stated, “Dad, I understand.” From that moment, Armani’s family recognized that he had a special ability to drive and that they would do anything to make it happen.

He has continued to demonstrate incomprehensible talent on the track, competing first in go-karts, then bandalero type vehicles, followed by late models, the ARCA Truck Pro Series, and the NASCAR Driver for Diversity Combine. To date, Armani has 18 wins and 2 championships.

With several years of success and perseverance Armani is now at the professional level and continues to develop his skills on and off the track in NASCAR Canada, driving the #28 Race4Autism Dodge for CBRT MotorSports.

Armani’s dream of winning the biggest races in NASCAR in the U.S. is well within his grasp.

Continue on to to read the complete article.

Photo: Team Armani Racing

Fearless Amputee Mama Cax Encourages Others to Face Anything

Mama Cax walks walks with crutches on runway after having right leg amputated

By Hiliary Innerbichler

Mama Cax, born Cacsmy Brutus, was given only three weeks to live when she was diagnosed with bone (osteosarcoma) and lung cancer at 14 years old.

Now in her late 20s—and after having her right leg amputated due to an unsuccessful hip replacement following chemotherapy—the Haitian-American is an advocate who utilizes social media as a platform to talk about body positivity and to dismantle the image of what people with disabilities should look like.

“When I first started blogging, a lot of women amputees were messaging me about how they’d never seen an amputee on social media or anywhere showing their prosthetics,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “I think it’s so important to show people who have physical disabilities because there are people out there who buy products and never see themselves represented in any way, shape, or form.”

In 2016, the blogger, advocate, motivational speaker and model was invited to the White House to walk in the first ever White House Fashion Show to celebrate inclusive design, assistive technology, and prosthetics.

Soon after, Cax was made one of the faces of Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive line, and since then has made her debut walking the runway at New York Fashion week in designer Becca McCharen-Tran’s Spring 2019 show.

Mama Cax has now partnered with Olay in their new campaign #FaceAnything to encourage women to live fearlessly and to have the confidence to be unapologetically bold and true to themselves, according to


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  1. NABA 2023 National Convention & Expo
    June 6, 2023 - June 10, 2023
  2. 38th Annual AMAC Airport Business Diversity Conference
    June 10, 2023 - June 14, 2023
  3. City Career Fairs Schedule for 2023
    June 14, 2023 - December 14, 2023
  4. Small Business Expo 2023 Business Networking & Educational Events Schedule
    June 23, 2023 - February 22, 2024
  5. B3 2023 Conference + Expo: Register Today!
    June 29, 2023
  6. 114th NAACP National Convention
    July 26, 2023 - August 1, 2023
  7. 2023 Strategic ERG Leadership Summit
    August 3, 2023 - August 4, 2023
  8. 2023 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference
    August 14, 2023 @ 8:00 am - August 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
  9. BDPA’s 45th Annual National Conference: Super Early Bird Registration
    August 17, 2023 - August 19, 2023
  10. BDPACON23: Future Now
    August 17, 2023 - August 19, 2023