This summer, in response to increased focus on racial equity and addressing racism as a public health crisis, AIDPH created daily calls to action for the oral health community. We’ve summarized our call to action below.
In solidarity with advancing racial justice and supporting the call to action from the American Public Health Association to address racism as a public health crisis, AIDPH will be taking this week to reflect on confronting oral health inequity through antiracism.
“Racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.” -Dr. Camara Jones
To remain vigilant in advancing racial justice in the oral health community, AIDPH urges public health professionals to consider implementing the practices below:
- Amplify messages of antiracism. RacialEquityTools.org provides an extensive resource center for communicating and framing messages centered on racial equity. Follow racial equity advocates and share their messages within your organizations and your network.
- Name racism as the cause of racial inequity. Research is critical to understanding, addressing, and eliminating oral health disparities. The public health community, including oral health, should be deliberate and intentional in how we frame the findings and applications of our research. Disparate health outcomes are the result; racial discrimination is the cause.
- Examine antiracist policies in your organizations. To quote Basset and Graves, 2018: “Instead, public health practitioners should acknowledge the centrality of racism—the entrenched discriminatory practices of institutions, not only people. This frame shift, from people to institutional policies and practices, reconceives both the problem and its response.”
- Read antiracist literature and resources. Came and Griffith (2018) discuss the importance of incorporating literature on antiracism in their paper Tackling racism as a “wicked” public health problem: Enabling allies in anti-racism praxis: “The development of anti-racism praxis that explicitly incorporates the literatures on racism as a societal structure and as a determinant of health inequity to inform public health efforts is limited.”
- Create space for your organization to learn antiracism. Learning antiracism doesn’t happen through an afternoon diversity training. Unlearning racism happens through repetitive, ongoing, deliberate action that changes the culture of your institution and the systems in which they live. Rejecting racism and implementing a culture of antiracism is literally a matter of life and death in the public health community.
More publications are available in our Dental Public Health Virtual Resource Center on racial equity in oral health. Help us build this collection by submitting resources we’ve missed.