David Williams Gives a Speech About the Effects of Racism on Health

By: Mishal Omar - Apr 20, 2017
References: hsph.harvard.edu & youtube
Dr. David R. Williams is Professor of Public Health, African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University, and he recently gave a speech on how racism effects people's quality of life in ways that are often left ignored.

In the speech, Dr. David R. Williams discusses how racism increases the likelihood of various diseases and premature mortality. Where previously people assumed that these differences were related to divides in income and education, he points to evidence that reveals that even Black people who have college degrees are more likely to die prematurely than Whites with high school diplomas. This reveals that while income and education are a factor in higher premature mortality rates in Black people in the United States, they are not the only factors impacting those rates. He then goes on to explain the two ways that racism effects mortality rates and the increased likelihood of disease in Black communities. He does this by explaining studies that reveal that those who experience higher levels of racial discrimination are also more likely to have higher stress levels, increased blood pressure, and are more likely to be obese, and by talking about racial discrimination in medical care which is also a widely documented occurrence. Williams then outlines the institutional ways in which Black communities are negatively affected by racism, including residential segregation and its effects on income and inequality.

While racism is usually discussed in the context of police brutality, employment, education and income, David R. Williams makes viewers think about how it impacts important areas of people's lives that are thought about less often.