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2020 was a hard year. Especially for black Americans like me. The summer was especially hard with the losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Around the May 2020 time frame there was also the NYC birdwatching incident where a black man was falsely accused of threatening a white woman. This set off a twitter phenomenon of #BlackInX. I watched as first BlackBirders week came and went. Then, #BlackInAero, #BlackInAstro, #BlackinData, #BlackinCardio, #BlackInBio, you name it - and there was probably a #BlackINx for every major STEAM group. Except for me.

I scrolled through Twitter desperately hoping to find a #Blackin3Dprinting or #BlackinAM - hell, I would've settled for a #BlackinManufacturing. But there wasn't. We weren't there. We weren't represented. I found myself feeling isolated again. Lonely and cold at a time when I should've been warm and fuzzy with my career success. So, I decided, if there wasn't a #BlackinAM I would need to make space for one.

My time came a few weeks later when Aaron Lichtig reached out and asked me to be on OK Xoomer, a podcast show put on by Xometry. I've had a fairly solid working experience with Xometry and thoroughly enjoyed all of the projects we were able to collaborate on. My tongue is tied by an NDA, but I can vaguely say that most every Xometry job was something new and unconventional to be printed in metal and I enjoyed the challenges IMMENSELY. Other than our professional relationship, I had a positive view of Xometry as they were one of the few to step up in the Additive Manufacturing community to say that Black Lives Mattered. They had my respect and so, when the email came through I accepted.

I soon found that accepting to speak publicly was the easy part, figuring out a topic was hard. Hard as hell. I scrolled through the previous videos and marveled at all of the amazing people who had been on the show. Many of them were friends and/or other Women in 3D Printing.

Finally out from under the thumb of aerospace, I asked Aaron if he'd be open to doing an episode about the lack of diversity in AM. Much to my surprise, he was incredibly supportive of the idea.

I think this interview is probably one of the bravest things I've ever done. No one wants to go first. Or be the first one to bring up the elephant in the room. It was terrifying. I spent nights without sleep wondering how big of a target I was putting on my back. Would my future employer frown upon this? Would I be set upon by internet trolls? Who was going to have my back if this whole thing went south? Questions like this plagued me every night leading up to the interview. It was so terrifying, but I felt it needed to be done.

If I didn't speak, who would speak for me? I felt it was my duty to take up space in this additive world. To put a tiny little (1) under the #BlackinAM.

I'd also like to take a moment here to thank my mentor, Industry Fellow Alex Kingsbury, for being a true ally. She coached me through this and gave me the confidence that at least ONE person in the industry would have my back. I'd also like to thank Sarah Goehrke for helping to provide clarity and structure when I was outlining what topics I wanted to cover. Your guidance was most appreciated.

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