Social justice, activism and dentistry in the era of #BLM

Patricia Neville

Social justice, activism and dentistry in the era of #BLM

Authors: Patricia Neville
doi: 10.1922/CDH_00151Neville05

Abstract

The #Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement thrust the dental profession into a period of critical reflection. Whilst there is enthusiasm for critical reflection and change now, we know from other social movements, like feminism, that this initial phase or ‘wave’ of activity will subside, hopefully to be replaced by a next ‘wave’. How will we nurture this moment of activism and ensure that this initial energetic phase of activism and mobilisation transforms into more sustained and sustainable change? This article offers a sociological-ethical framework to ascertain if dentistry is the progressive and responsive profession it claims to be in the immediate aftermath of the #BLM movement. The dual theory of justice developed by Nancy Fraser (2001, 2004, 2005) and its distinction of the role played by redistribution and recognition in the pursuit of justice will be used to illuminate the challenges that dentistry and oral health face in this regard. It then plots the current efforts of the dental profession against the known trajectory of social movements to adjudicate what has been achieved and what work is yet to be done to ensure inclusion and race-based justice. Keywords: Ethics, organizations and administrations, justice

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