On Sunday, April 22, The New York Times led its front page with a story revealing that infant death rates were rising in the South, particularly among African Americans. To sociologist David Williams, that was hardly news.
Williams is one of the world's leading scholars on racial disparities in health. Now the Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, he has wrestled intellectually and morally with such dismal statistics for more than a quarter century. Yet having authored scores of journal articles and book chapters, he's still left with more questions than answers.
Asked on September 1 about the high death toll from Hurricane Katrina, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said, “Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable to a lot of people who did not heed the advance warnings.” He added: “I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave.”
With one Florida man dead of anthrax and another exposed, frightened Americans want to know if something even worse than the horrific events of September 11 now lies ahead of us. Could terrorists loose bioweapons of mass destruction upon us: anthrax and smallpox, botulism and plague, invisibly airborne? The answer -- which is perhaps more frightening still -- is that the experts can't say.