This week, I am reminded of the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall when he received the Liberty Award in 1992: “I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. I wish I could say that this Nation had traveled far along the road to social justice and that liberty and equality were just around the bend. But as I look around, I see not a Nation of unity but of division. In the chill climate in which we live, we must go against the prevailing wind. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”
Sadly, nearly 30 years later, Marshall’s words are still relevant to the tensions that exist in our society.
I believe that all of us must address the racism in our communities and our profession. A community that is welcoming and embraces differences will make us stronger and will ensure that we better serve all patients, support our team members and strengthen our profession with a diverse group of leaders. Systemic racism and the inequalities it sustains often keep people of color from accessing the care and services they need, and these systems also create barriers for those hoping to enter the profession.
I hope you will take time to reflect on recent events, listen to Black voices on the changes that must occur in our society and consider what actions you can take to improve our future for everyone.
As you move forward with resuming elective care, I hope that all your training and innovative efforts have prepared you well. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
Connie L. White, DDS, FAGD
President, Academy of General Dentistry