The past contains stories that are complex and messy, heavy and painful. Nevertheless, it is the obligation of the historian to talk about these crucial topics and make them accessible to people far beyond the university.
This is the driving mantra of Dr. Richard Mizelle, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston and scholar of race, medicine, and disasters, both environmental and manmade. During his interview with Dr. Wes Jackson, recorded on December 17, 2020, Dr. Mizelle advocates for getting into good trouble. Whether discussing lead poisoning or diabetes, floods or hurricanes, or even the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mizelle argues that people - from general audiences to medical professionals - need help in understanding how history informs their lives. He talks about the public erasure of African American stories, memory, and experiences due to systemic racism, but also how this “ignorance-making” can be confronted by embracing “different ways of knowing,” creatively examining music and historical fiction as archival records, and simply engaging in tough conversations about health crises and how biases and barriers can shape the well-being of a person.
For more on Dr. MIzelle: