Sukhjeen Kaur is the Founder and CEO of Chronically Brown, a non-profit organisation working towards tackling the stigma of disability within the South Asian community. She started Chronically Brown as a result of her own experiences of people not understanding or accepting her disabilities. Chronically Brown’s team and group of ambassadors use their own lived experiences with disability to establish the projects and use campaigns to diversify the voices of disabled people. When it comes to disability, research shows that the more educated you are about the condition you have, the better quality of life you may have, and support has a direct impact on wellbeing. However disability is still viewed in the South Asian community as a taboo subject and censors disabled South Asians from talking about their experiences. Chronically Brown aims to mitigate this with a range of services such as campaigns, workshops, discussion groups and many online resources to help break the stigma and get people talking.
Please tell us about your career
My career journey is rather short as I am at the start! I struggled to get through my degree and graduated in 2022. I shortly started my job role in research focusing on the project ‘COVID-19, Disablism and Systemic racism’. I have now started a non-profit called ‘Chronically Brown’ which is to tackle the stigma of disabilities in South Asian communities and increase representation of disabled South Asians. We’ve launched our ‘desi-abled’ campaign to support that. I started this non-profit because of my own experiences with extended family members not understanding or accepting my disabilities. Since being diagnosed with ADHD and Autism, I have not heard from them at all and the ones that did contact only contacted my parents to ask “Is Sukhjeen okay?” - almost like my diagnosis wasn’t a good thing or a way to understand myself better.
Through my work, I have completed talks with conferences for Galapagos, Patients as Partners Europe, University of Oxford and been featured on ITV news, BBC Asian network and The Independent. This work has concluded me as an ‘expert’ on diverse representation and intersectional communities and shortlisted for the ‘campaigner of the year’ award from the ‘British Diversity Awards’. I recently was a model during London Fashion Week for the brand ‘Unhidden’.
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
My career is bittersweet as a neurodivergent woman. Due to my career path being rooted in social justice and helping others, I have been given multiple opportunities to further this education and support others. Helping others has always been the main goal which led me to start my own non-profit. It’s given me a direction I am passionate about and love intensely. I am lucky to be doing something that I have so much interest in and not fall out of love with it. However, it does mean I am constantly burnt out without acknowledgement from others on how hard it is and without knowing how to ’slow down’. Ultimately, I am happy in my career path and hopeful about the future of my career but if tomorrow I no longer had to do this job, the stigma was gone, I would be even happier that we live in an accessible world.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
Figure out your own traits first before jumping into anything new. As someone late diagnosed, I wish I understood more about how my brain works before I agreed to do work commitments, because I was more than likely doing it to people please than do it for myself. This didn’t drive passion and now I have better boundaries and just feel more confident within myself.