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Numerous dental organizations have recently offered their condolences on the death of George Floyd and urged people to take action against systemic discrimination. (Image: Shiva Photo/Shutterstock)

Dental community mourns death of George Floyd

By Iveta Ramonaite, DTI
June 15, 2020

CHICAGO, U.S.: The recent news about the death of George Floyd has sent shock waves throughout the world and has touched people of different ages, races and ethnicities. It has also appalled the dental community, which published statements on the incident, offered its condolences and invited everyone to take a stance on the racial injustice and police brutality that has been endemic in the country for centuries.

George Floyd was a 46-year-old African American who lost his life on May 25 during an arrest in which a police officer kept his knee on the man’s neck for nearly 9 minutes. The incident has sparked protests across the U.S. and accelerated the urgent need to introduce police reforms in the country.

In light of the event, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Women Dentists, the Hispanic Dental Association and the Society of American Indian Dentists have issued a joint statement in which they urge people to eliminate personal bias, embrace diversity and inclusion, and help dismantle systemic inequality. They stated: “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.”

“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,” the group of dental associations continued.

“I believe that all of us must address the racism in our communities and our profession" - Dr. Connie L. White.

Similarly, the National Dental Association (NDA) wrote: “The NDA has served neglected communities nationwide for over 107 years with an emphasis on assuring that their right to health care is addressed. Often those communities are impoverished and deprived of economic and social justice. We stand in support of these communities and their citizens, and we call for justice on behalf of Mr. Floyd.”

The association explained that, although it does not support violence and the destruction of property, it understands the underlying cause of the protests and the frustration of people whose voices have not been heard or taken into account. It stated: “Our members have dealt with this since our inception and have actively been on the front line in the civil rights movement fighting for the rights promised by the constitution of this nation.”

“We join the many organizations and groups around the world seen protesting this unspeakable tragedy to ensure that in the end justice will be served for George Floyd and others who have been deprived of a peaceful existence at the hands of those who have pledged to protect and serve their communities,” the NDA commented.

The NDA encouraged everyone who wishes to support the cause to vote in the upcoming presidential election and choose those leaders who will make efforts to achieve racial equality.

Finally, the Academy of General Dentistry has joined the other dental organizations in their fight for justice and change in response to the protests. Dr. Connie L. White, the president of the academy, wrote in a statement: “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,” she concluded.

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