Juneteenth celebrates freedom

The holiday points to need for continued work toward oral health equity.

Juneteenth—or June 19—is this weekend. It commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. I hope your celebrations are filled with joy, community, and remembrance. 

The legacy of slavery in our country is long, complex, and painful. Racism and other systems have created barriers and disparities—especially for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC)—in education, housing, income, and health care. These and other social, economic, and environmental factors—known as social determinants of health—have major effects on overall health and health outcomes. 

Disparities show the need for equity. 

When it comes to oral health in Washington state, research shows some residents—BIPOC people in particular—have opportunities for healthier smiles. For example, among second and third graders, Black children experience untreated tooth decay at a rate of 18 percent. That is nearly twice the rate among white children—10%. Among people 18 and older, 41% of Black adults had at least one permanent tooth removed compared to 36% of white adults. And among people 55 and older, 74% of Black adults had at least one permanent tooth removed compared to roughly 50% of white adults.  

At Arcora, we center our work in equity to achieve good oral health for all. We work with partners to ensure everyone can enjoy good oral and overall health with no one left behind. 

Support for communities through partnerships.  

We are excited to partner with Women of Wisdom Tri-Cities to raise awareness about good oral health at a Juneteenth celebration in Eastern Washington this year. Women of Wisdom is a charitable human services organization in Richland that serves BIPOC people in the region. 

“Women of Wisdom is partnering with Arcora Foundation to bring social justice and equity surrounding oral health care to Eastern Washington,” said Chauné Fitzgerald, CEO of Women of Wisdom Tri-Cities. “Our goal is to change the trajectory of oral health so that, in the future, everyone can enjoy the benefits of good oral health,” she said. 

Arcora is supplying Women of Wisdom with oral hygiene kits—which include toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss—to distribute for free at the Juneteenth event. The focus is to provide oral health and other resources—like vaccinations, grocery cards, and health education—to people who are low income and underserved. 

“We are working with Arcora Foundation to bring access and awareness to oral health care and oral disease prevention,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re striving for 100% access and no disparities,” she said.  

Freedom is a bedrock principle of our country. For Black people, Juneteenth represents the difficult journey toward freedom that continues to this day. Freedom includes the ability to reach your full health potential. Arcora is proud to support our partners who continue this journey. They help make our communities more equitable for everyone—especially BIPOC people—where they live, learn, work, worship, and play. 

Vanetta Abdellatif
President and CEO, Arcora Foundation