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Introducing Black Makers Month

Introducing Black Makers Month
Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 10.22.21 AM
Kipp Bradford.

Rock and roll. Baseball. President Obama. These are very uniquely American things, made possible by the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and talents that have helped shape our country. American innovation is also a product of a diverse American culture. I’d like to celebrate the diversity that drives innovation by recognizing black makers throughout the month of February. Black History Month is devoted to celebrating part of our culture. Let’s not forget the history of black makers like Elijah McCoy. Why stop with the past though? Let’s also profile modern black makers who are changing lives. As we inspire more kids from more diverse backgrounds to become makers, we will strengthen innovation and increase success in arts and STEM fields.BlackMakerMonth_Badge

While we are at it, we can strip down one barrier to making makers. We can eliminate the feeling that “makers don’t look like me, so making is not for me.” I know I felt that way when I was growing up. I remember being in middle school and going to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on a field trip. There was a presentation with a black science educator who insisted that black scientists were part of every major field of science although most were not well known. He even offered a $5 prize to anyone who could name a field of science that didn’t have a prominent black scientist associated with it. I easily won my $5 that day and was certain that I could have won $500. This educator had a thick book with obscure names and photos and stories and I didn’t believe any of it. The only black nerd that I ever knew about was George Washington Carver. And Erkel.

Fortunately, I have a supportive family that helped me follow my dreams of becoming an engineer. Unfortunately for a lot of kids, they don’t have the kind of support network and opportunities that got me to where I am today. So last March I decided to do something more to help inspire these kids. First, I gave a TEDx talk on the topic. Then I began to collect profiles of black makers wherever I travelled with the hopes of giving kids heroes and role models. I’ve posted these profiles to a website “Black Makers.”

This list is short, but rapidly growing. I hope you will join with me and MAKE Magazine in celebrating Black Makers month!

142 thoughts on “Introducing Black Makers Month

  1. dave kelly says:

    Whens the White Makers month?

  2. Sky Masterson says:

    Cool! When is White Makers Month?

  3. Jason says:

    As the other two snarky comments imply, isn’t this a little racist?

  4. lrwickerdesign says:

    I think encouraging anyone to be a maker is great, but to focus on a group that is near to one’s heart is even better. Having moved south from NYC I have observed a lack of color in many areas, making is definitely one of these. I applaud you, Kipp, for making the effort to include those who may not receive a “social” push in the right direction (making). Your example will surely inspire others.

  5. Luke says:

    I fundimentally have an issue with this. We do NOT have White makers and Black makers. We have makers, period. I get what this person is trying to do, but as long as we are still titlling blacks and whites as if we are different people that’s all we will ever be.

    1. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

      We can celebrate our common interests as well as what makes us all unique from each other. I’d much rather acknowledge diversity (or lack thereof) than pretend that makers are just one big homogeneous mass of people.

  6. lrwickerdesign says:

    Uh, I dunno if you guys noticed, it IS Black History month…..

  7. Eric Weddington says:

    I have met Kipp personally on several occasions and I would call him a friend. He’s smart, funny and a dynamic guy with a lot of cool stuff always going on.

    I understand that there are those people who may see a double-standard: “Why not a white makers month?” I would love nothing more than to see this country become completely “color blind”. The sad truth is that we are not completely there yet, though progress continues to be made. Kipp rightly points out that it is not “unacceptable” to be white and be involved in STEM subjects. I would hazard a guess (because I am white) that one doesn’t necessarily find that acceptance in the black community.

    Kipp is not about promoting blacks over whites, but he is about promoting Making and STEM subjects within the Black community. This is a good thing. The percentages of anyone, of any color/race/creed/whatever, of making it in the industries of music, entertainment, and sports will always be an extremely small percentage. Being involved in STEM subjects is open to *all*.

    I don’t care which demographic anyone is promoting STEM subjects to. The point is that it is being promoted. People need to have examples and role models in all walks of life. It’s hard to be a good dad, if you didn’t have a good father role model or mentor. It’s hard to be a good engineer if you don’t have a good role model *that you can relate to*, whether it’s a girl not seeing any women in the industry, or blacks not seeing any blacks involved in Engineering and Making . It becomes even more difficult if you’re surrounded by people and a culture that constantly dismisses the topic. It’s basic Sociology. Even if you’re white and poor and come from a “redneck” family and background, you’re going to find social resistance to going into Science and Technology. Everyone who is thinking about going into this field needs encouragement and a mentor. It’s a good thing that Kipp is providing this leadership within the Black community! I know that he doesn’t mean that he’s doing this in any kind of exclusive way. He’s asking himself how he can help and give back.

    So, kudos to Kipp for doing this! Get more people involved! We need people from all different kinds of backgrounds coming up with creative solutions to the problems of the world, even technical solutions.

    What are you doing to help those around you? :-)

  8. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

    What you’re doing is fantastic, Kipp! Here’s hoping for more opportunity and support for a more diverse generation of future makers.

  9. Sky Masterson says:

    Yes Iwickdesign, When is White History Month, or Yellow History Month, or red History month or maybe Brown History month?

    1. lrwickerdesign says:

      Gee, Sky, I guess those other colors have to get their own month going on. Maybe you could be their spokesperson?

  10. Luke Dubber says:

    Boy this is a tough one, I am guess everyone who says we need a “White Makers Month” and calling this racist, is a white maker and I hate to say it; you, yourself come off a little racist. What you don’t seem to understand is that every other month is white maker month, I mean honestly I have been on make for years and I have every volume of Make and I cannot recall a black person in one of the magazines. I am sure I am wrong and that there have been a few, but compared to white male makers, I am sure its a fraction. I get what they are trying to do its Black History month, so why not Black Makers Month.

    In the end I think what they are suggesting is not racist in the slightest, you can pretend it is, but as a white privileged male, I will say there should be more of this.

    1. E.M says:

      Makers have always been characterized by their desire to build things, not skin-color or other personal identity characteristics. believe it or not this seems more unfair to black people implying that they need special care to be on equal foot with the others.
      And no, past history doesn’t justify this kind of treatment because they will never feel equal if they are treated as ‘special’ cases.
      saying ‘You can make it despite of you color’ gives the impression that there is something wrong with the black skin people.

    2. Erkko says:

      “What you don’t seem to understand is that every other month is white maker month”

      No. Every other month is every kind of maker month. Black, white, yellow, jewish, muslim, gay, straight, male, female, every possible kind of maker month. Every other month is inclusive – a black maker month is exclusive.

      And exclusivity based on race is called racism.

  11. Craig Couden says:

    Kipp, this is great!

    To the others: celebrating black makers doesn’t take away from other makers (of any race), but instead is another avenue to promote making among people who may not identify as makers or may think making is out of their reach.

    Great TEDx talk, too!

    1. Luke says:

      I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I wasn’t saying it takes away from the other makes. I was saying that as long as we continue to call us White Makers and Black Makers instead of just Makers we will never become the “color blind” nation one of the other posters mentioned.

    2. E.M says:

      I think what most are saying is not that this takes something out of other makers… the problem is that this segregates the black makers.

      1. Erkko says:

        Well, technically it does take away a month of publicity from every other kind of maker who are ignored in favor of black makers.

  12. Dennis says:

    Thanks! Now I’ll look at “Black Makers” differently than before!

  13. Jason says:

    Don’t dog on the Franklin Institute too much. That place is a HUGE part of why many of us are Makers today as well as in STEM fields. It gave us a proper hands on taste of the sciences. Thanks for the reminder of all the grate times I had their.

    1. Dennis says:

      all the grate [sic] times I had their [sic].

      1. chuck says:

        Grammar Nazi-ing is the lowest of low hanging fruit. What, you don’t get to use your English degree working at Starbuck’s? Only kinda kidding)

  14. Mohammad Khanzeer says:

    I now DEMAND that there be a “Muslim Makers Month”!
    Everyone knows that Muslims have invented many , uh, …. some th. ….. uh…

    1. Robert says:

      You may be kidding, but the Muslim world was the leading light of science & invention around the 10th century.

      A huge, huge number of developments are attributable to the Muslim world.

  15. Gareth Branwyn says:

    We knew this series would be controversial and we understand the objections to it. We decided the good of it outweighed any bad — expressed well by Pres. Gerald Ford when he urged Americans to (use Black History Month) “to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Besides it being a simple celebration of some accomplished Americans during Black History Month, the larger benefit to all makers is expressed by Kipp in this intro post: “While we are at it, we can strip down one barrier to making makers. We can eliminate the feeling that ‘makers don’t look like me, so making is not for me’.” It is in this spirit that we present this series.

  16. Davel says:

    I understand the intent, but I don’t think this is helping. It feels like Kipp is putting up more walls than he is tearing down. He’s self-segregating. He’s saying that we can’t just all identify with each other as makers. We have to recognize that black makers have tougher challenges.

  17. Bill Bigge says:

    Perhaps we can have a Jewish makers month, and a Muslim makers month, followed by a Hindu Maker, then a female maker month topped of with a gay maker month.

    When it comes to the cause of equality, nothing beats a month of identifying one group as not quite fitting the label of ‘normal’ and categorising them with some extra qualifier like black of gay. In this case, although I understand the intent and see that it could have value at some points in history, it also sets up the false perception that ‘normal’ makers are white, and that black makers are somehow different. – It is ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘makers’ and ‘black makers’.

    In a rhetorical sense there should be no black makers, there should just be makers.

    Aaaaannd, time to quote Morgan Freeman:

    “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
    “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

    which we could paraphrase as:

    “I am going to stop calling you a white maker and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black maker. . . I don’t want a Black Maker Month. Black makers are just makers.”

    To put it another way, at least with regard to black history, or gay pride, or whatever – the goal of these movements should be their own end, it should be to make the notion of celebrating black history, or gay pride, as ridiculous as having a “Myopia pride” month or a “size 12 feet” month – because being black should be as normal as being white.

    I said that I understand the intent, and see that things like this can have value at some points in history, but I think we are reaching a point in history (I hope) when this kind of thing is in danger of moving from an educational endevour that gently drags people out of predjudice, to something that cultivates a different kind predjudice – one that emphasises skin color as a differentiating characteristic – it says: “sure, we are both makers, buy I am a black maker, and you are a white maker – we are not the same”

    1. Starry says:

      I agree whole heartedly with this. Featuring black makers and singling them out are two different things. It’s very weird to me, maybe because I am British too. Love that they are celebrating diversity at Make, but not like this. As so many people have said before me, are they going to have maker months for all different races? Religions? Sexes?

    2. Luke says:

      You have explained my point even better than I did. I whole-heartedly agree with what you have wrote.

    3. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

      I want to reply to the idea that the goal of these movements should be their own end. I’m going to focus on the gay pride equivalency that you brought up because I relate to gay issues better. I suspect that a black maker may have similar feelings.

      As a gay maker, I wouldn’t want that part of my identity to ignored. It’s actually an important part of who I am and I really value it. I wouldn’t want to be “just a maker.” And the Gay Pride movement isn’t solely about seeking equality under the law and smothering prejudice. It’s about a lot of other things as well. It’s about celebrating our culture, our history, our community, and our diversity. It’s about supporting each other and our struggles. It’s about just relating to each other and then turning to rest of the world to say we’re proud because it shows them that we’re not ashamed. And it shows others who may be struggling with their sexuality not to let shame rule their life.

      Even when the prejudice is gone and we have all the rights we deserve, I suspect that LGBT youth are still going to struggle with their identity. They’re still going to seek role models that they can relate to. That’s why we do this. And if being gay ends up being just as easy as being straight, then I think Gay Pride serves as a reminder that things weren’t always so easy.

    4. E.M says:

      Totally agree

  18. Bill Bigge says:

    By the way – I’ll not mention my skin color, but I will mention that I’m British so I don’t have the same cultural experience as any of you in the US (we don’t have a black history month over here).

  19. Davel says:

    not to mention… this is going to invite all kinds of bad jokes. What happens every time you ring a black makers doorbell? -insert your own punch line here-

  20. chuck says:

    Like every other hot-button issue on the internet this goes a little deeper than the knee-jerk reactions. We don’t see as many black folks in the maker movement and we ask why. I propose that the core reasons are economic and not cultural.
    While we have more opportunity and accessibility than ever, we still have a huge economic divide between black and white Americans. Minorities in America tend to earn less. I think the real problem is a lack of POOR makers. Poor folks tend to be less educated and more superstitious and distrustful of authority. This leads to an anti-scientific bias and even technophobia. Also the poor tend to view skilled labor, trades, and the military as successful and desirable career paths. This is due to the fact that top colleges and companies do far more to nurture and recruit students from the ‘best’ schools, which happen to be better funded and enjoy a more affluent alumni, than underfunded, lower income urban and rural schools. We as a society tend to see in black and white- literally. We notice the racial imbalance and stop looking for deeper causes.
    What Kipp is doing is to be commended. Anyone who gets kids excited about tech is on the right path. Let’s not make it a divisive issue.

  21. sciencequiche says:

    I think what is interesting here is that Kipp writes from a personal viewpoint. So there’s at least one Maker who feels/sees racial inequity in the movement as a whole (and is trying to do something positive about it). Before downvoting him into oblivion, let’s be open to the possibility that there are others that feel the same. If there are (and I hope they let their voices be heard), perhaps this is an issue that needs to be acknowledged by the larger maker community. The research tends to be on his side, that providing role models that are relatable (in this case via race) has led to positive outcomes for children in STEM fields.

    I remember watching Kipp bring up the topic at last year’s Faire. He gave a talk entitled “Where are the black makers?” which was met by a mixed reaction, the same you see in these comments. I’d love to hear from Kipp how that conversation has progressed (if at all) since he gave that talk last year.

    1. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

      I absolutely agree. Well said.

    2. E.M says:

      No, one persons past feelings do not justify implying that the Make community has somehow raised obstacles to black people and does not justify implying that since in hi childhood he felt inferior because of his skin other black people should feel the same now and need rescuing.

      1. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

        I don’t think anyone has stated or even implied that the “make community has somehow raised obstacles to black people.” That’s only one possible explanation for a lack of diversity. But when you look around and see a lack of diversity, it’s a signal that we need to take a look at the issue. We need to make sure that everyone who might be interested in making knows about this community, has access to it, and feels welcome.

  22. Chilster says:

    This is embarrassing. You should be embarrassed.

  23. d says:

    Wonderful! Another organization jumping onto the overzealous nonsensical ultra politically correct bandwagon through nonsensical themes. Good job! Don’t forget Gay maker month, Yellow maker month. But don’t you dare create a White maker month, that’d be racist against everyone else!!!

    1. Robert says:

      Congratulations, you don’t understand racism.

      1. Lux Lee says:

        Or maybe (s)he is not an American?

  24. adafruit industries (@adafruit) says:

    hi folks! ladyada (limor fried) from adafruit. we have yearly celebration ada lovelace day ( we use this day and and surrounding days to celebrate women in tech.

    “Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM.”

    progress has been made, but there’s more work to do, it will never be “done” and we want to celebrate more groups as well.

    we support this effort from kipp and MAKE and you’ll be seeing adafruit celebrate black makers month as well. on feb 1st we had already posted about these efforts too:

    ladyada (and pt)

  25. eviladrian says:

    I’m genuinely perplexed by some of these comments. I expect this sort of nonsense from the Wired peanut gallery, but I would have thought Make readers were capable of more than “When’s white history month?”

    Good luck Kipp, you’ll need it!

  26. Tieg says:

    Eli Whitney? Do you mean someone else, like George Washington Carver?

    1. Kipp Bradford says:

      Tieg, you passed passed the quiz. The original post mentioned Elijah McCoy. I switched it to see how many people read the post or watched my TEDx talk before posting a comment.

      1. Tieg says:

        Ah, two Eli’s! Well, it was a great talk– good to learn about Robert Henry Lawrence.

        1. Kipp Bradford says:

          Thank you!
          I admit, I was totally blown away when I learned about Robert Henry Lawrence. He had quite an impressive story. Definitely one that kids should know about.

  27. Kipp Bradford says:

    First of all, thank you to those of you who’ve posted thoughtful comments regarding what is clearly a delicate and touchy subject.

    The joy of being part of the Make community for me has always been the wonderful welcoming atmosphere, where people are judged by the quality of their projects, the depth of their talents, the cleverness of their designs. My interest as a maker and educator has always been to bring more people into the world of making and to show people how exciting this world is. I believe it is important to grow the community of innovators who are passionate about the work they do, and who share their work and their passion with others. It is also important to grow the community of educators who show students the true joy and beauty of math and science by reconnecting these abstract concepts to the natural and manmade technologies from which they originate. Makers are doers, individuals for whom a problem is really the opportunity to dream up a new idea, and have the skills to bring that idea to life in the physical world. Every maker is a creator of new knowledge and solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.

    Many of the comments I read here share the same excitement and energy that I feel at Maker Faires when I see whole families, kids and parents, walking away with their lives changed with the power of possibility. Some of the comments here don’t seem to ring with that same spirit of inclusion. It would be great to see everyone excited that Make Magazine is giving a nod to the fact that it is Black History Month, and as I say in the post “to celebrate the diversity that drives innovation by recognizing black makers throughout the month of February. Black History Month is devoted to celebrating part of our culture.”

    I feel very lucky to have gotten where I am in my life. Not everyone is so lucky. I’m sharing a message that “Making is inclusive, making is important, making is empowering”. Part of sharing that message is to show that making is diverse. It is a small message to those who feel left out, but it is a powerful message. It is a message that I will send again here:

    1. Lux Lee says:

      So be a role model. Show us your stuff. Show the stuff your friends are making.

      But please stop stressing what skin color you have. I did not notice it before you mentioned.

      I think that you too do not want to be a special case so please do not make yourself the one.

      1. Kipp Bradford says:

        Hi Lux Lee,
        Your thoughtful comment regarding Luke Dubber is right on.
        But I have a question for you:
        Where in my post do I mention my skin color?

        1. Lux Lee says:

          Come on Kipp. I’m from the society that was used to read the text between the lines.

          So let me translate it for you.

          **Introducing Black Makers Month** (alright, now we know about what we are talking about)

          Rock and roll. Baseball. A black President. These are very uniquely American things, made possible by the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and talents that have helped shape our country.
          Let’s also profile modern black makers who are changing lives.
          We can eliminate the feeling that “makers don’t look like me, so making is not for me.”
          I am black but fortunately, I have a supportive family that helped me follow my dreams of becoming an engineer.

          I’m sorry Kipp, it is all there. I understand what you want to do and why you are doing it and I really support your cause. You are doing the right thing. But I too think that your methods are not the best ones.

          Think about Limor and Jery. Do we have women makers month? Do we need it?

          So we would have the black makers month. What comes after?

          Let me say it again. Put down the fanfare and drums, hide your banners and show us your stuff. Be a role model. Ask your friends to show the stuff they are making and believe me, the other will come. No they are actually there.

          These videos

 (well, he is not an American but hey, his options were even more limited)

 (this is the guy who showed to me how to build my own solar panel if I happen to have my own house)

          are just few examples.

        2. Lux Lee says:

          I did not say that you mention it. I sayd you stress it i.e. you place emphasis on it.

          See, the people here like to see cool tips and cool projects they at least dream about replicating.

          This is all they care and it irritates them when it comes with an additional political agenda or even with just agenda and without real tips and dreams.

          That the source of the projects is biased here is in my opinion editorial problem, not the problem of the readers.

        3. Lux Lee says:

          I’m sorry, it appears that I still sayd it. :)

          Anyway, please restore my previous comment.

        4. Lux Lee says:

          Please delete my all my comments. These are not relevant without censored and more explanatory comments.

    2. Lux Lee says:

      It appears that my long reply has been removed.

      I commented how my background helps me to read between the lines and showed an example of it.

      I also shared the support to the Kipps cause but doubted that his methods are the best to get there.

      I also extended my previous suggestion about what might actually work in the community like we have here and also in the actual desired audience.

      I also gave two youtube links to share cool alternative energy projects.

      Please restore my comment.

  28. Lux Lee says:

    I made the same observation as Luke Dubber about year ago. I mean lets take Make or HackaDay. Did you remember when you saw something from black guy/gal? Me neither.

    This insight was mindblowing. Now I realize that what Kipp is saying is that the reason for this is that there are not any. Or at least not many. Now this can not be true!

    So go and find those black makers and present them. Hire a black guy/gal if they hide themselves from you.

    But please, cut this racist crap.

    We do not need special olympics for the black makers. Even when and especially when this idea comes from a black maker.

    1. Michael Colombo says:

      The idea of celebrating black makers is neither racist nor divisive. It’s celebratory and inclusive. Different cultures bring unique contributions to society at large and when those cultures are marginalized, their contributions need to be highlighted. EG Hip Hop started as a maker movement. Black kids in urban areas couldn’t afford guitars, amps, and drumsets, but they could steal their parents’ turntable and figure out how to make music from it. Then cobble together sound systems and hijack power from lamp posts to host renegade outdoor parties. A lot of this is covered well in the film NY77 – – This spawned an entirely original genre of music, yet its origins are largely lost on the general public. There is a NEED to showcase these stories and feature these makers.

      1. Lux Lee says:

        I think that you are very right about the need to show the work from very diverse folks. But do we need a special day, a special month for it? There is constant supply of very good work around the world. Just pick them up and show.

        I understand why Morgan Freeman was upset about Black History Month and I think that he is very much right about it. Lets get over this black and white and yellow issue. We are all people after all.

  29. Lux Lee says:

    Please delete my other comments too after you deleted two of my more elaborative comments. These comments are not relevant without those.

    1. Stett Holbrook says:

      Lux Lee, I restored your comments. They may have been inadvertently deleted, but they still fall within our guidelines for civil discourse.

      1. Lux Lee says:

        Thank you.

      2. Lux Lee says:

        And my comment is removed again.

        I noticed it because I wanted to refer to the links I added there.

  30. Evilution says:

    This is horse****. WTF has skin color got to do with “making” stuff.
    Black history month is understandable as their ancestors went through a lot however, in the realms of making stuff, they don’t get treated any different so creating this type of segregation is borderline racism and it’s stuff like this that causes flare ups as can be seen above.

    No one else gets special months so why should blacks be any different? Are you trying to appease them or something? Surely people getting special treatment such as this because of their skin color is racism. Oh no sorry, I just remembered, it only works 1 way.

    F-ing disgraceful bring race into it, I’m outta here.

    1. Introducing Black Makers Month Matt Richardson says:

      On one hand, I understand the opinion that Black Makers Month may not be a good way to go about ensuring diversity and equality (though I disagree). But what I don’t understand is the outrage I’m perceiving here. Why does it upset you so much? I’m earnestly trying to understand that.

    2. Michael Colombo says:

      Black folks aren’t simply another culture, they are a recently enslaved culture. It takes many generations to recover from that. In that sense they are different from other cultures, and it’s not simply a matter of skin color. As a result of their oppression they were not afforded the opportunities to make or get involved in arts and sciences as much as others. Heck, the height of the civil rights movement was only 50 years ago. I think black makers deserve their spotlight.

    3. chuck says:

      If you’ve never been thirsty you don’t really appreciate water.

  31. Bill Bigge says:

    “Black folks aren’t simply another culture, they are a recently enslaved culture.”

    Do black people in the USA regard themselves as being from a different culture, and if so, different to what? My own experience of American black people is from TV and Movies but I always thought they (the actors) were all from American culture, the same culture as the white Americans.

    I’m conflicted by this whole issue because I think the motivations behind black makers month, and celebrating Ada Lovelace day, are both excellent and, as Ladyada points out, although progress has been made there is still work to do on these, and other issues. I would still re-iterate the point I made earlier though, that ultimately this progress should be towards an end to the necessity of these events.

    I guess my concern comes back to how this focuses just on one underrepresented group. Wouldn’t it be better (and I could be very wrong) to come up with something more inclusive, with a broader editorial remit – perhaps you could call it the “maker Minority Report” that features makers from under-represented groups – this could include Women, different ethnic groups, but also makers with disabilities, perhaps makers with mental health problems … I would certainly be interested in hearing the stories from all these groups of people and telling these stories is a great way to break down barriers, I just worry that highlighting one group specifically, and perpetually, may be putting up other barriers, however inadvertently.

    Without hearing other people’s stories it is hard to put yourself in their position, easy to make naive assumptions, and to become complacent. For my own part, I am a white British male from a moderately privileged background so my experience of these issues is almost entirely second hand – the closest I got was being the one who stayed at home to look after our baby whilst my wife worked – and having to write half of my PhD thesis with my baby daughter asleep on my lap. Being a stay at home dad put me in a minority but I didn’t experience any of the prejudice and suspicion that I think I would have if I had been doing it a few decades earlier.

    “If you’ve never been thirsty you don’t really appreciate water.” — Well said!

    1. Lux Lee says:

      Very well said.

      But I think that we do not need labeling, just broader reporting that can look behind the “makers community” bubble.

      Why I say bubble is that I have experience with the home automation entusiast communities. Because I can read Frensh and German, I’m also checking forums and blogs in those languages.

      I must say that there is a big information barrier between those communities.

      I think that HackaDay does pretty well job here because they very often refer to the information that is not in English.

  32. terrefirma says:

    Congratulations on being a great role model and being able to pursue your dreams. As a white suburban woman, it rankles that there is a need to highlight ‘black anything’ but I get it. I wish it weren’t so, but until there is a culture change- both from non-blacks encouraging the myth that all men are NOT created equal, but from the black community that also perpetuates it for reasons I don ‘t pretend to understand, I’m happy that there are people like you supporting and encouraging ALL kids to be all they can be….

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Kipp Bradford is a technology consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for making things. He is the Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer in Engineering at Brown University, where he teaches several engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Kipp is also on the Technical Advisory Board for Make Magazine.

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