The dental profession mourns the passing of George Floyd, who died last week while he was being restrained by police in Minneapolis. We are faced with a hurt that is, unfortunately, all too familiar. The ensuing outcry over Mr. Floyd’s death is not just about this singular incident, but instead a centuries-long history of discrimination and brutality against Black people and other communities of color. We add his name to the list of others’ whose lives have also been cut short under the heinous, yet enduring legacy of racial injustice.
And with every addition to this list, there is a wound that weeps from repeated injury. There is sadness, anger, and frustration—and rightfully so. Just think: In 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his dream that our society would one day “hew a stone of hope” for his children and generations then unborn, all in the name of democracy and in the security of justice. Instead, 57 years later, we continue to reach new altitudes on what he called “a mountain of despair.”
Today, our organizations stand together alongside the National Dental Association, which issued a statement on June 3, to say NO MORE.
We denounce the acts of racism and violence that have occurred across our nation. We stand with our colleagues who have been affected by current events, and with those whose longstanding fears and heartaches have been stoked once again.
We implore you to embrace diversity and inclusion not as buzzwords or intellectual exercises. This is the moment for the dental community—as a robust tapestry of people from all backgrounds and walks of life—to live its values. We must live each day with intention. We must choose to live with integrity and respect toward our fellow human beings. We must choose to recognize that their lives matter, too.
We won’t dismantle systemic inequality overnight. To paraphrase Theodore Parker, the 19th century abolitionist minister whose work inspired the writings of Dr. King, the arc of the moral universe is long. We may not see what the end will be. But, today, we must do what we can—by actions and conscience—to ensure that the arc bends toward justice.
This is the moment to unravel from whatever personal biases we may harbor. To become allies. To have the hard conversations. To listen to voices that have long gone unheard. To speak up for those who have been disenfranchised. To commit to empathy and understanding. To be forces for change. To be agents of harmony. To call out wrong when we see it. And to do what’s right when we can.
Chad P. Gehani, DDS
President, American Dental Association
Daphne Ferguson-Young, DDS, MSPH
President, American Association of Women Dentists
Edwin A. del Valle-Sepulveda, DMD, JD
President, Hispanic Dental Association
Frederick Jeremy John, DMD
President, Society of American Indian Dentists