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Undisciplined: Black Health Matters

  A lot of the Black Lives Matter movement has been framed in terms of policing. But even if we could fix the racial disparities that exist in use-of-force situations, we’d still be a far cry from a world in which every facet of our society operates as though Black lives truly matter. Take healthcare, for instance.

Depending on how it impacted your life, it might seem like the video of George Floyd’s death went public just yesterday, or maybe it felt like it was a very long time ago. 

It was, in fact, May when Floyd was killed, under the knee of a police officer after begging sixteen times to be permitted to breathe. 

That was the same month that sociologist Myles Moody earned his PhD from the University of Kentucky. In the months since, Moody has been preparing for his first faculty job as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. 

So, at a time when the nation is focused on the plight of Black Americans in a way that hasn’t happened since the Civil Rights Movement, Moody — whose research centers on racial disparities — is headed to a city that is virtually synonymous with Black rights to try to help students make sense of the world they are inheriting. And one of the things his students will learn from him is that while police brutality is at the forefront of many people’s thoughts when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, that’s not even close to the only place where disparities are claiming black lives.

Moody’s research is centered on disparities in health, and his previous work uses quantitative methods to examine how racism affects the health of Black Americans.

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.