Brian Williams: combating racism in public health with bioengineering

In a similar vein to Obiageli Nwodoh using physics in her social justice work, bioengineer Brian Williams has gone down the scientific route to combat systemic oppression. Unfortunately, the catalyst was a fateful encounter with the police:

Shaking in the back of a police cruiser, handcuffs digging into his wrists, Brian Williams was overwhelmed with fear. He had been pulled over, but before he was asked for his name, license, or registration, a police officer ordered him out of his car and into back of the police cruiser, saying into his radio, “Black male detained.” The officer’s explanation for these actions was: “for your safety and mine.”

Williams walked away from the experience with two tickets, a pair of bruised wrists, and a desire to do everything in his power to prevent others from experiencing the utter powerlessness he had felt.

He is now majoring at MIT in biological engineering and minoring in Black studies but his interests lie in racial justice in public health policies and the systemic racism that has left many people in marginalised groups skeptical of the medical profession (an acute example of this being uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine).

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