May 23, 2022
4:00 pm
May 23, 2022
5:00 pm

Disability Power Series: Demystifying Disability with Kelly Dawson and Emily Ladau


We held an engaging conversation with advocate and media consultant Kelly Dawson and author and activist Emily Ladau. Aside from being real-life friends, Emily and Kelly have challenged the status quo by sharing their stories of being disabled. Kelly's work has been featured in notable publications, including Vox, Dwell, and more. Emily is a disability activist and is well known for her book, "Demystifying Disability."

Kelly Dawson is a media consultant and disability advocate based in Los Angeles. She is a prolific writer for notable publications including Cup of Jo, Vox, AFAR, Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, McSweeney's, and Architectural Digest. Kelly is the three-time guest editor for Refinery29's "Voices of Disability" series, two-time guest host of "Call Your Girlfriend," and deputy editor at Apartment Therapy. Follow Kelly Dawson on Instagram and Twitter @atthecrosswalk, and read her work at

Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. She is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR and a 2021 Booklist Editors' Choice, Demystifying Disability is an approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place. Follow Emily on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. More about her work can be found on her website,


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RISA RIFKIND: Hello everyone, we will get started in just amoment. Hello everybody, thank you for joining. We will continue to wait for about 30more seconds and then we will get started. Again, thank you for joining us and welcome.

RISA RIFKIND: Thank you for joining today's DisabilityPowered series, with Kelly Dawson and Emily Ladau. I am Risa Rifkind. Thank you for joining us and welcome. Thank you for joiningtoday's Disability Powered series, with Kelly Dawson and Emily Ladau. I am Risa Rifkind, and I am speaking now. My pronouns are she/her Mac, I am a brownwoman with long dark straighten hair, I am wearing an orange jumpsuit, and myround is a 'Disability+y Lead' background rate of others, fuchsia and purpleall coming together. The + indicate the positive role that people with disabilities have inleadership roles, come together as one. Also included in the background is thepattern of acceptance, which supervises our amazing network of positive(indiscernible). All people with disabilities who are using our power to createan equitable society. To learn more about our work, what we believe and what we do, please

RISA RIFKIND: We are so excited to share our work and our stories withyou. Ahead of today's event we sent out a Goode Bryant, -- sent out a Goode Bryantabout accessibility features in Zoom. We have CART happening, ASL interpretation and Spanish translation today. If you have any issues inaccessing these features, please coordinate with us during the checkbox. Thank you for everybody for joining us today, including our disability -relatedmembers, and those who have donated. We will be recording and sharing thisevent on our channel, and uncover website in the next few weeks. If you are a person with a disability living in Chicago region and areinterested in joining us, please visit to become a memberor a fellow in our 2023 instead application, will be starting in the maximum. All participants are in attendee mode only today, but we encourage you to engage with us. You can engage with us over social media, using #WeAreDisabilityLead and #PowerInfluenceChange. We have compiled some greatquestions from you in advance, and I will be asking those alongside anyquestions would come in life. We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter at the links on the screen.@WeareDisLead. With that, we can go ahead and start sharing to the slides, and go on to our program.

RISA RIFKIND: Today, we all have the order of basically being a fly on the wall for the discussion between two artists, friends and advocate, Emily and Kelly. I am notgoing to think their full biographies because they were shared in advance, butthey are impressive people. And I really just want to turn it over to them forthe next 35 minutes or so. To kick off the conversation as they come on screen to join me, I am going toask the first couple of questions. So Emily and Kelly, when you are ready tocome on screen please join me. Awesome! Hello Emily, hello Kelly. To get started, I am going to ask this question alongside an introduction thatyou will do. How do you claim how as a disabled person? And why is itimportant? And lastly, what does disability leadership meeting to you? And why?I am going to go offscreen, but please shout if you need anything. Thank you.

EMILY LADAU: Thank you. I know everybody, I will start off by introducing myself andresponding to the question and then turn it over to Kelly. And then we'll getright into our conversation. I am Emily Ladau, I am a disability rights activist. And I am also the authorof the book 'Demystifying Disability: What do Know, What to Say, and How to Bean Ally'. I am a white woman, my hair is brown and pulled to the side in a bun.I wearing black glasses and a pink, white and green shirt. My background is blurred. My pronouns are she/her Mack, and I am so excited to be with you heretoday. Most importantly, I am happy to be in conversation with Kathy, who is one of myin the Lyle life favourite people. And I think that leads me directly to myresponse about what, looks like, for disabled people. I think that it looks like finding your community. And being able to engageauthentically with your community. I have felt for so much of my life that Idid not have many peers, to confide in when it came to talking about what mylife as a disabled woman is like, and feeling like I could sit in any kind ofpower with that. And, I feel very lucky that now I have been able to understand that I have aright to take up space. That I have a right to exist. As a human being, on thisplanet. And in regards to leadership, I think I still struggle to see myself asa leader, because I do not want to put myself in the centre or in the middle ofanything. But, what I know for sure is that I am not alone in what I am doing. And thatis a very exciting prospect for me. And, the power that I feel in being able toknow that there are people who will say "I have got your back. Iunderstand your experiences. I am in this work with you." That is... I do not know quite how to articulate how important that to me. I would like to pass it off to Kelly to share their thoughts.

KELLY DAWSON: All my goodness. And I would like to say hello Chicago! I have never been to Chicago but I have always wanted to visit. First let me start with my description and pronouns. My pronouns are she/her. I am a mixed-race woman, but a path is right. I have a plaque here that is down,and I am wearing a blue and white dress with white flowers. Emily, first of all I sent to you. I love having you around. I listen to you,and I hear go with them on a regular basis it helped me to be a betterindividual, and to also stand in my power as a disabled woman. For me, I would think that my power is really in standing in my truth. And CMRItruth as a viable reality. That villain as a disabled person a lot of the timewe are spoken for untold what our reality is, and I think in the day-to-daythere is such power in saying "Well, actually, I can speak for myself. AsI actually know exactly what I am feeling and how I have interacted with theworld." Even if the people around you do not actually understand that, understandingthat for yourself is powerful. So, yes. It really Emily, I would say that you were the one that gave me the grace toreally start to see that in the three or so years that we have gotten to knoweach other. You know, for those who don't know, Emily was part of one of thefirst stories that I wrote that publicly shared my disability. So, that wasthree years ago now it is wild to think about. Because of the conversations that we had for that story - that led to anoff-line friendship, where resistance is more about our experience it - I wason "Oh, OK, this is what it is like to have a friend that knows exactlywhat it feels like. To have a physical disability, and to exist in theworld."

KELLY DAWSON: -- EMILY LADAU: I was at a bit of a loss for words before, because this is not just as having a conversation for an event. It is really us continuing the conversations that wealways have. And I feel like there is so much real emotion that I am trying to hold, when it comes to the value of having somebody who says "I see you. Iunderstand you. And you are powerful as you are." The world is upset the unit messages every day; especially not in light of the pandemic, where I feel constantly vulnerable and exposed at more risk than Iusually do as a disabled. And to be able to come home at the end of the day,for lack of a better way to phrase it, and know that there are people who say "I am also really tired sometimes. What you are feeling is very valid." That to me is what power looks like. And that is not perhaps asserting power inthe way that we usually understand that word but that is OK. I do not thinkthat power is about creating hierarchy, and creating a sense of superiority. Ithink it is about creating a strong bond where you know that you are not alone.In the life, and in work.

KELLY DAWSON: Yes. I would say, you know, you have a disability act that -- advocate since Sesame Street. And I have been one but maybe the past three years. It really, my writing is how I have become an advocate. And, having the abilityto one, enter the community in such a way that I am ready to start myexperiences. Yes, I have cerebral palsy my entire life but I have never beencomfortable to share what I have been back with me up until three years ago, publicly. So if you have the welcoming experiences I have had with this community, and you also have the off-line, behind-the-scenes conversations with women likeyou, women especially like you - you are mainly the person I talked to! - It is helpful, to again stand in my power and to also feel the power that is comingfrom this community, whether or not it is centred in society. We are powerful. You know?

EMILY LADAU: And we can honestly talk to you about why you need to stand in your power all day. But we promise we would get to plenty of other questions. (Laughs)

KELLY DAWSON: I could not talk about how I could not feel powerful until to get to go.

EMILY LADAU: That is real as well. KELLY DAWSON: It is. And for me, there is a lot of disabled -- internal bias that a lot ofdisabled people feel, and I was sort of noticing how the Bible takes. How the tone of the room changed, whenever I discussed my disability at work, ordiscussed my disability with people who were not in my inner circle. So, that was nerve-racking for me. And that sort of told me "Oh, people maybe do not want to hear this. Or maybe do not think I am telling the truth." So, once I had a little bit more experience and continued to talk about myexperiences, and then Matthew¦ And other people like you¦ I was like "My feelings are valid! And I do have something to say, as I am ready to say it in a public forum. "Because I know that it is true.

EMILY LADAU: I think that there is a lot of discomfort around talking about disability, and also, receiving what disabled people have to say about disability. Because wedo not have a real, rebounding in how we think about disability, and in how we talk about disability. That is larger because our experiences are not universal. And if you have met one disabled person, you have met one disabled person. So it is a little bit challenging to try to narrow down the slope of experience and impact 1 billion people. More than 1 billion people. But, at the same time, I am trying very hard in all of my work to prioritizeoffering people a starting point in capitalist demand. And I recognize thatthat is not necessarily everybody's approach but for me, if I can welcome youinto the conversation, whether you are disabled or nondisabled, whether you aretrying to figure out your place in the broader community, or you are justtrying to understand what it means to actually be a strong ally, I want you here. And I want you as part of the conversation. And, I understand that it is not always going to be easy to navigate theseconversations. It is probably actually looked to be uncomfortable. (Laughs)And, I didn't want anybody to feel that way. I want people to feel like¦ Likethey belong in this conversation. Not that they take over these conversations! But that they have a plan for them.

KELLY DAWSON: I love that you sent there. I think you cannot be powerful unless you are comfortable with the way that you are showing your power. So for me, I feel most powerful in these kind of settings, small group setting,that is just my personality. And when I am able to do that, I feel like I can have more of a conversation where, you know, everything for my daily life to my vague ideas of what society can do to make the world more inclusive can happen on that. Scale where everybody is thought of sharing. And then when it comes to my writing, but started just me and my computer. So it is really just a different form of one on one. And from there I had so many people email me and say "Oh my gosh, I have read my essay and I didn't know about that. I was not aware I was doing this. Here is how I think I can dobetter, and here are some questions that I have for you." And then that turns into a one on one conversation. So I feel that once youfigure out what my group is, and once you figure out, you know, where you can be your best self. That is where you can shine. And that is where your power can really be felt. So when you are working on your book¦ (Laughs)

EMILY LADAU: You had a role in it! (Laughs)

KELLY DAWSON: You were really trying to convey your trip. And thank you and I, truth is doing it in a way that is welcoming and spells conversation. And you know, could you tell me more about that? Do you think I am on the topic with that?!

EMILY LADAU: Absolutely. And credit where it is due, because the book would not have happened if I had not talked to you in the first place somebody years ago. So I think for me my goal of my book will always to create something that is asacceptable as possible for people, with the understanding that there is a hesitancy to even engage in disability conversations in the first place. And if we can have a place to begin those conversations, one that is not judgemental, and one that is not saying "Hey, I am immediately Matthew because you are not disabled. And you just do not get it." Then I think we're off and running with a good starting point. That being said, I have to acknowledge that I am only one person. I am a white woman, who communicated verbally and have a physical disability. And there is no possible way for me to have encompassed every single experience ofdisability in one book. I tried my best to include as much as I could, but the reality is that I am still learning. I am a faithful disabled white woman - and still trying tounderstand my role in a broader community, and where it is OK for me to take up space, and where I need to step back and say "I didn't know about this, it is not my life experience all my energy". And that is OK. And I think that if this is something that if you are disabled,that¦ Or really, if you have any marks identity that you are somehow involved of being a good ally to other people. And that is just not true. And it is often that I am learning and working on constantly, and I am trying to model that in a lot of what I put together, with my book. Our example, I also worked on a plain language version, of the book. Because I understand that part of ally ship means not everybody wants to hear the jargon. Not everybody has the cognitive ability to process the jargon. And that is OK. Some people want a more accessible version and I wanted to offer that people. And there is a digital version, there is an audio version, and I think about that not because I am trying to put myself on the back but because I wish that people recognize that there is a lot of various forms of learning and engaging, and being part of this community and being part of this conversation. And you have just as much of a right to think of space as I do.

KELLY DAWSON: Yes. Part of having power in knowing when to pass the mic, and knowing what one of the lanes is yours. I think, you know, one of the greatest opportunity so far in my efficacy career has been being the guest senator of once an affinity, where it is literally my doctor bring as many courses as possible into the fold of telling the stories. So you know, invisible disabilities, intellectual disabilities, I want to bring as many of them as possible into the series. So that there is a comprehensive understanding. Again, I have been disabled since birth. I have a different understanding, as awoman with physical disability, and I also have a learning language. Especially given that the language is apparently my specialty. I know that I have said things that I should not have said, want somebody with a disability told me "Pain, that is actually not OK." I think the biggest example of that is using terms like "crazy". It is so invasive in everyday language, and then one very kind person from that that was OK. And the best thing that I can do is say "I might, I will getbetter." So, I will say the idea of disability as a monolith is¦ It is just something that we can work on. Because it is the case with any identity. It is not amonolith.

EMILY LADAU: I am glad you brought up language, because it seems to be there single biggest thing that I engage with people on when it comes to disability. I often find that I lose people in the first few minutes of a presentation, when I say "disabled person." Instead of "person with a disability." And then they will stop listening to me, because they are now trying to do the calculations in the heads of whether what I just that was OK. And so hung up on hearing me say the word "Disabled." That they entirely miss a lot ofthe upfront that I am trying to make. So I will get through an entire presentation and somebody will say "OK, but what if you say "Disabled person"? (Laughter)

KELLY DAWSON: That is so familiar to me.

EMILY LADAU: So I have started to notify and cut off everything in my starting position with "I am just going to say upfront that language is deeply personal, and I use what is known as identity first language and promise of a person. You might say that you are a woman with a disability. That is cool." And then depending on the necessity of providing further content I might also say "We need to talk a little bit about euphemisms, because you might have had diffusion say differently able or person with special needs, and I do not use them." If somebody else chooses to give them full of themselves, I cannot tell her not to. That is not my case. But I just want people to not get so hung up on the nuances of language that they missed important point. But at the same time, also be respectful of the fact that language has real power. Because is he falling back to the word power. And if you are going to say things that are actively hurtful and not do better, if you are going to keep using the word crazy, if you are going to use any kind of slows, if you are going to disrespect somebody personal and which references¦ Then you are disempowering that person. Who has ownership and a say over what the F.

KELLY DAWSON: Owner. Everything that I have ever written ever about my disability, there is always a comment like "Cool. Please say differently it was. Or special needs. Or you know, all that stuff." 100% agree with you. I think that obviously, conversations need to take place on a deeper level than what is more important than language, especially when a disabled person is telling them the language they prefer. Most of the time and I get that pushback it is from a nondisabled person tell me what it should be. And there are a lot of hoops to jump through, when you get from both draft to published draft. There is a lot of discussion about differently able to disabled veterans of the other euphemism that is. So just going into it. Either there is a disabled person on the other side has already discussed this andthose "OK, I am referring this language." And that is when you can, to the publisher. To say "As a disabled person, I defended language. So I think that there is so much more that can be said, with a conversation about Inclusion. Access. About where we go from here, when the IQ years into a pandemic, and I still feel like so much of the conversation at some service-level is going onabout not hurting people's feelings. When really, whose feelings are being centred in the conversation. Most of thetime.

EMILY LADAU: It reminds me of a lot of the conversations that happen within the disability community, where we are¦ Operating under Florida systems, and we are expected to make the best of working within the Flott system. And I know that as we were planning for this event, we were talking a lot about the concept of "You cannot dismantle (indiscernible) using these tools." And we were talking a lot about the concept of power dynamics, and the hierarchy that is created, especially within the disability community, based on other identities. And, I've been thinking a lot about this lately, because I feel conflicted a lot of the time. I almost feel like my advocacy is a big paradox, but I have to sit in my privilege and acknowledge the fact that it is my privilege that has allowed me to get to where I am, and to share my perspective. And my experiences. And to have a platform. And I fear that my presence and sometimes become disempowering to other people unintentionally, because people will say "Look at this very nice white lady same thing that I find tolerable about disability, I will listen to her." Even though I see myself as I worked as an entry point, I feel it in many cases the bigger points are not on people, because they are just looking for tolerable and palatable. And you know, what they can swallow, before they say "This is too much. I am going to step back because now you want me to listen to somebody who has multiple intersectional marmite identities and this is too much me." And I have been noticing that way more during the pandemic. That you know, there are a few people who have planned of the risen to the top and spokespeople, but upon the disability community, and few are we missing in these conversations? And how do I navigate the fact that I have the privilege of a platform, and also, I am not the spokesperson for the disability community? And I do not mean to sound¦ And be guilty, effective white lady, I mean thatthis is a call to action. I would like everybody on this config about the ways in which the occupy places of conflict and marginalization. And sit with that.

KELLY DAWSON: I totally agree. Again, I am a white-passing and I tend to think that people listen to me because of that in some way. I think that, you know, it says a lot about you that you are noticing that, and that you want to do something about that. To make sure that the inclusion happens. Not only was in the disabled community, but is in society at large. It is such an interesting conversation you have, because I think there is so much give and take here. There is give and take him into disabled community, and in getting the word out. And both of these things require so much conversation and camaraderie. And I think it had to start in the community. And just acknowledge and like you were saying before, everyone is comfort level with the power is different. So, acknowledging that as they express themselves to you, with every tear in that hierarchy you are on, and a power that we can all have. I just look at article about the return to normal billing the return toworkplaces. And so many people reached out to me saying "Oh, I have a story to tell to you. I have an employer who will be back in the office, what be back in the restaurant, and you know, I can talk to you about it." And I click on the Twitter, and they have 17 followers. I could have very easily gone to somebody who has many more followers than that. But, I didn't. I wanted to hear from the person who has a story, and does not have a platform. Again, because I am with you. There is more that we can do to make sure that all voices are heard, and that you do not have to have a platform to advocate for yourself, let alone advocate for the community.

EMILY LADAU: Otherwise, we are perpetuating the hierarchy. And I think that I have noticed a lot of media perpetuation of that hierarchy, even unintentionally. Because they turned to a handful of disabled people, at the spokespeople, and whose stories are we missing? You stories are not telling? Whose how are we ignoring, in the process? By not inviting people to contribute to a conversation that impacts them as much as it impacts someone who has a new checkmark on Twitter. And what million followers.

KELLY DAWSON: To be fair, I had a story that I was not telling anybody for years. But when somebody reached out to me and made me feel comfortable enough to share, I probably would have shared with them. Because they would have seen me on a shared level of disability. Also back that story easy to write. Because everybody that I spoke to knew that I was also disabled, and could relate to them at least on that baseline.

EMILY LADAU: There is really something to be said for that comfort level. And, I also keep thinking about the fact that disabled people creating our own media is perhaps one of the best tools to dismantle the structures that are in place. Because when we are in charge of telling our own stories, when it really is nothing about us without us, then we are meaningfully¦ I hate the term legal, but moving the needle. (Laughter)

EMILY LADAU: Something I struggle with unlock if the writing is that old and used, speaking is little that I used to try to dismantle systems, with the full recognition that I am placed on the phone in an ocean, not, you know, somebody who is going to dismantle the assessment but somebody who is hoping to create a little effect, and I try to reconcile the fact that I have access and command over the particular tools. With the fact that these very tools, in many ways, are not necessarily accessible to everyone. They do not reach everyone. They are nothow everybody chooses to communicate. We need to hold space for the fact that there are some way to be an advocate.

KELLY DAWSON: And we were talking, I was thinking of a candidate however. And how everything is sort of build up, and you can take up little pieces at once. And when you are dismantling a system, you do not have to start at the top. Good start formultiple entry points. You can talk to the bottom. Bless you. And I think there are many ways to do this. I think, I hope that my Jenga analogy elaborate. And I think that it is interesting to me, at this point inour present history, when we are literally living through a moment where everything should be changing, and we have an opportunity to really band together and say "What do we need to protect ourselves and others? In thismoment." That can start with a very wide conversation. You know? The more that you know, the better you can do.

EMILY LADAU: I think that is where empathy comes into play. But I always try to differentiate between empathy and feelings of pity, or, sympathy. In a way. I am not really looking for people to feel bad for me, or to feel bad for themselves, about themselves. If they have made a mistake, or if they have been a list. If they have said something that is harmful. I am more interested in ifyou know better, you can be better. And, granted, doing better part is really on view, the general collective stop like, I am happy to educate. But it is up to you to internalize that lesson. Although - and maybe this is a bit of a tangent - but an important one nonetheless, something Therese said about constantly feeling like a teachable moment and constantly feeling like you are on display. So I just really wish that¦ There was a way to strike a balance between people understanding that there is a certain etiquette to asking me questions, and you wanted to be educated, and recognizing that yes, I will willingly engage in conversation. An educator as best as I can.

KELLY DAWSON: Yes. Again, you are human. We do not want to get a post at Target. (Laughs)Like, while you are chopping to have this moment of "Here is my life storyand here is why you hear about me."

EMILY LADAU: No, I am busy in the Dalai Lama! Leave me alone!!

KELLY DAWSON: And it just happened to me the other day. I was like "This is going to be a teachable moment, is going to happen in the kitchen centre. OK, I guess we are doing this." And on the one hand, I understand. Because I am there, and the opportunity to ask if the stop and I'm not inviting, I guess, and then on the other¦ There is just like the invasiveness of that, that I am never going to quite fit over. Even if I do not understand what it is coming from. So we are talking about being spokespeople, you know, and how complicated itis. This entire conversation has been very nuanced. And it all comes down to knowing your personal message, knowing what you want to convey, in finding your power and conveying that in a way that you feel comfortable.

EMILY LADAU: I agree with that. I do not ever want to give carte blanche to everyone to assume that they can ask any disabled person anything that they want. But, I am generally amenable to questions, when they are not downright rude. But, I was thinking about how an old encounter that I had, and how to even navigate the etiquette of it, but, a parent was walking with their child, I assume, and when I was rolling past them, the parents and "What, he is going very fast. He is going to run you over. It out of her way!" And she just yanked the child out of the way, as if I was not paying attention to whereI was going. And I wrote an article at the time, this was many years ago, about how I am not going to run your child over. And how little curiosity can be healthy, and how other than turning me into a scary monthly who is going to hit your baby with my wheelchair, just say "That is how they get around. "


EMILY LADAU: But I think about that now, and the way that I what the article was not just giving parents the blanket permission to, you know, is me as a teachable moment. What I say that every disabled person was a teachable moment? And somebody wrote an article in response to my article saying "You are a stranger. I am not going to just encourage vitality talk to a stranger." And that was a very valid and fair point. So there is so much nuance to the act here.

KELLY DAWSON: You got stop – article! So I went for a walk with me, and a mother was there had filed, and the kid is only an FYI was working like that and the mother said "She is going for it works just like that." And I literally was so stunned. I wanted to stop what I was doing hard hat and give the kid a high-five, because it was such a normal, no fuss, no more and no fuss reaction. Then every disabled person should be given when they are in public. And, yeah, I have also had the one that you described, and it is topped. Hopefully we'll all of this, however, I think you and I are both able to understand which interactions should take up space in our mind, and which ones are just people who need to learn. For people who¦ Whatever. So, yeah, for me it is just like OK, this is bound to happen. As we continue this giant conversation about improvement. Unfortunately.

EMILY LADAU: I feel like it is impossible to tie this up nicely with a. And to say "OK, we are done talking about all this." But ultimately for me this conversation was a reminder that standing or sitting in truth and in your power is actually a very messy process, and a very ongoing process. And I like the rawness of a conversation like this. Because it is a reminder to me that no one is done doing the work. And that is OK. I am not come to you, involve the mountain top going "I know what I am doing! I have totally got this!" I do not think either of us know what we are doing.

KELLY DAWSON: I mean, I do come to you like you were on the mountaintop⦠(Laughter)

KELLY DAWSON: But obviously, I know that you and I are learning and we are going and we are open to learning. Sorry, you are one of my closest friends. I think that everything you say is just fantastic with them.

EMILY LADAU: And you hurt yourself lately!? (Laughter)

KELLY DAWSON: Thank you.

EMILY LADAU: We have to do the Q&A now.

SPEAKER: I didn't want it about you both, because it is such a quick discussion that you are having. I have some great nullity on leadership and power, language and power, really talking about her that empowers us as a community and individuals when we take away that language and the voice of the individual. And I just love your friendship as well. They are just having this beautiful moment, I am just going to let the girls exist. But yes, we have a Q&A often up-to-date event of a customer really great questions to share with you. I am going to go ahead and ask the first question that we received from Nikki Jackson. And he said "do either of you relates to dealing with imposter syndrome? Any person that I try to get insight from on processing this struggleare able-bodied. So I am curious to hear your perspective of dealing withimposter syndrome, with the added bonus of being disabled."

KELLY DAWSON: I love and it bothers!

EMILY LADAU: And bonus! Kelly, can I ask you to and disbursed? The basically my life coach.

KELLY DAWSON: I will answer this first. So, right. Thank you so much for your question. Yes, of course I deal with imposter syndrome all the time. And particularly when I was just starting out talking about my disability, publicly, but, the firstthing that came to mind when I was trying to think back to the many instances I have had imposter syndrome was I went to graduate school at the London Schoolof economics. And, I was the only visibly disabled person that I ever came across. And in the first few weeks of that experience, you know, I was tens ofthousands of miles away, leaving tens of thousands, but thousands of miles awayfrom my family. I had no friends they get and I was thinking "Oh my God, what am I doing here!?" And there is no way that I can make a life formyself here, and do well in school. So, in that moment, I had to consistently remind myself that I can do this. Iam here for a reason. I have something to say. And I deserve to have this experience. I even wrote it down on my mirror in the bathroom. So that I could look at it when I was mighty, as that under. So, I would just give yourself a break. And I will tell yourself "You deserve to do whatever you want to do. And there is a way to figure out how to do it."

EMILY LADAU: Truly, higher Kelly! In terms of imposter syndrome, I have essentially decided that I have been socialized to fill it to the point where there is probably no point at which I am not going to feel it in some capacity. And I think that is a real shame, because, I want to celebrate my apartment. If you know me even it all in all that I am uncomfortable in asking that, and I want to be part of my that I struggled so mightily that. It all goes back to that concept of power, especially when the method you are constantly says "You do not matter. Your life doesn't matter. And quite literally, your life doesn't matter." In supplications¦ With thenarratives of the pandemic. And I say that as a person who is not a multiply marginalized person. Navigating imposter syndrome is very challenging. But, what I have learned is that when you are open and what you are honest about how you are feeling aboutthat, I will tell Kelly, if I am feeling like I am not enough. I will tell arepretty much all my feelings.


EMILY LADAU: And having somebody say "No, you did a good thing." But in the case of Kathy it will be "You are doing great sweetie!"

KELLY DAWSON: Also, take naps and have snacks. That has imposter syndrome as well. It also doesn't hurt to save compliments that people have given you. I have what I call "Smile files", and I can always go back and look at those lovely comments.

SPEAKER: That is great. And thank you for answering that, I definitely want to for more questions at you. But Jay presented a letter to us and they asked "How has your racial/ethnic identity influenced your relationship with disability pride? Or power?"

KELLY DAWSON: So my dad is Jamaican, and my mother is Filipino and Irish. And that is alot¦ There is a lot there. Because you know, I am a white passing and I think that when people look at me, they think one something is happening there. For me, I sort of¦ I feel this power, along the lines of my connection to my heritage. My connection to the disabled community. And trying to find the places where both can intersect. But I actually really do feel like my life intersect on so many different things. So, I do not know how to fully answer that question without going into a 15 minute answer. But, I do feel powerful knowing that I am connected to the many different communities across racial lines. And, you know, but in the disabled community.

SPEAKER: Thank you for sharing that Kelly. And I have another great question, to share with you both. And this is actually from one of our providers, it is a really quick question as well. They've asked "Do you have advice for helping disabled children to advocate for themselves when they have perhaps controlling parents who have preconceptions of ableism?"


EMILY LADAU: I am laughing, because somebody in the chapters "What act of rebellion!" Because they saw me drink with a straw.

KELLY DAWSON: And after that as well. When it comes to children, and nondisabled parents, is a complicated discussionto have. I would say that children feel more that they say, obviously. And that is true of any child. And so your child is understanding the world in a way that you will never understand it. The best way to help them, in that journey, is to befriend disabled adults. Not other adults who have disabled children. Nondisabled adults you have disabled children. Although that is good as well. But your priority would be to befriend disabled adults, because I would argue that seeing disabled adults, who have life, you have loved ones, who have interest and careers, all of the things that make a full life, is going to help your child more. Particularly because disabled children are given a lot more attention than disabled adults.

EMILY LADAU: I think for me it is about understanding that kids are going to learn of what they live, and model what they witness. And I have noticed so often that children I am around well act in a very similar way as to how their parents act around me.Or their caregivers. So if their caregivers are super chill, then the kid is super chill. But honestly, if a kid has a question, I think it comes down to not demonizing those questions and not demonizing the curiosity. An example that I talked about before, but I certainly was a scary monster and not a person, a child is going to internalize that whether or not they consciously realize it. But, if a child asked a question or makes a comment, and you as a caregiver do not feel comfortable responding because you do not know the answer, are you are unsure, it is really OK to say "I actually didn't know, but they are a person like you and me so that you will learn aboutit together." I love nothing more than acknowledging that you can learn, and you can do better at any age. And I have found that to be the best possible approach, to say "Yes, let's learn about it. Let's talk about it." And I keep getting that response to the cover of my book, actually, which has a turned of different depictions of visibly and noninvasively disabled people. A lot of people are to me and saying "My kid is not yet reading, but is looking at this and asking questions. And I want to have an open, honest conversation with them even though I do not have the answer." And that is exactly that. You may not know the answer but you are having that conversation.

KELLY DAWSON: And there always to the answer because of the internet with a form disabled adults, even if they are not in your life they can be in your life virtually and you can find the answers. And again, going back to get it. A disability spokesperson in a supermarket TARGET, I love when the kids asked me questions. I will never not be like "Yes, let me answer your question." Kids deserve to be curious and have honest answers, including "I do not know."

SPEAKER: That is extremely helpful. And it segues to my next question, because you are working with the next generation and giving them the space to be curious and to grow. And also as an adult, you are setting that example to be curious and stubby growing at that age as well. And we had a question that was previously submitted, and thoroughly asks "I am interested in your thoughts about the colonizing disability. That is, how one might go about dismantling the oppressive institutional structures and systems that have historically failed to address the unique cultural, social, political and economic needs and aspirations of the native indigenous individuals, families and their communities within mainstream health and disability services."

EMILY LADAU: They waited two minutes that written. Wow! I am teasing. I think that it's such an important question, and in a way, I do not feel hungry students to say that I have any horizontal or definitive answer. But, what I do know is that so much of the work of dismantling the oppression, that in many cases we have built up ourselves, is starting to have conversationsabout it. We often have conversations were talking over one another. I use the metaphor of the table very often, asking "Who is at the table?" But I do not think that is enough. "If the table acceptable? Once you were at the table, who is dominating the conversation? If theconversation equally split? What are you doing what you leave the table? Howare you formidable what if the staff at the table, and are you coming back toit?" So for me it is about constantly ask yourself what is missing from theconversation, and not need to be centred in the conversation. And, recognizing, as Kelly said before, that there is so much power in knowing when it is not your turn to speak and it is just your attentiveness and and amplify. And empower other people.

KELLY DAWSON: I would add to that that if that is you, if it is a question that you have and it is bugging you, not as does he is saying something to that. And trying to make it right. That is a good way to start the work.

RISA RIFKIND: I wish we had more time for this talk. But thank you so much for your time Kelly and Emily, and your wisdom. Make sure that everybody in the audience can get a copy of Emily's new book, 'Demystifying Disability: What do Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally', as well as reading Kelly's work about returning to normal. Thank you so much for all of your wisdom, and if you would like to continue to receive Disability Lead's information, please consider contributing at Preset engagement us, follow-up on social media and Twitter, and Facebook, and we will be posting or disability power steering throughout the year. With that, thank you again and good night.

KELLY DAWSON: Thank you so much.

RISA RIFKIND: Thank you all.

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