We have been watching, listening, and learning over the past couple of weeks and want to have a hard, but necessary conversation with you. At CariFree, our tagline, and guiding principle is: Treat People Better. As a nation, the reality is we have been treating some, but not all, people better. This is not okay, and we must change.
We’d like to join with the American Dental Association in their recent statement as well as offer concrete steps we are taking to improve. The statement reads:
The Power to Heal Our Communities
Dental leaders respond to current events
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 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
We also believe in the words of Nelson Mandela that: “It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.”
We want to publicly recognize the very real and damaging disparity of untreated dental caries disease in the African American community. Oral health is one area in the complex system of racial injustice that disproportionately impacts Black communities. We want to recognize this fact and we choose to not be silent on this issue.
While we are working on a more detailed, long-term strategic plan, we are committing today to take the following steps:
- Identify an internal position/person/job dedicated to seeking partnerships, financial opportunities, or other concrete support of Black folks in our circle of influence.
- Establish an internal action plan to ensure our company culture is one where employees are free from all forms of racism and discrimination; where they feel safe and have the ability to thrive.
- Establish partnerships and provide support to dental organizations or individuals who have long supported and upheld minority dental professionals.
- Support community organizations who are fighting to eliminate racial disparities in access to, and use of dental care.
We want to announce these changes, not to virtue signal, but to provide transparency for our customers, partners, and colleagues. Not only as members of the dental community but as individuals and members of the American community, we want to make good on our promise to Treat People Better.
This is our start.
-The CariFree Team