The University at Buffalo is a diverse, inclusive scholarly community dedicated to bringing the benefits of our research, scholarship, creative activities, and educational excellence to local and global communities in ways that impact and positively change the world. With this mission as our guide, UB is committed to exploring, understanding, and responding to racism and systemic inequality. The UB President’s Advisory Council on Race has identified four key focus areas of attention to guide and shape UB’s policies, programs, activities, and traditions: recruitment and retention of students, recruitment, hiring, and retention of faculty and staff, community engagement, and through curriculum and teaching.
We require all graduates to be competent in managing a diverse patient population and to have the interpersonal and communication skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment. Therefore, it is imperative that we infuse SDM’s curriculum with principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This pre-orientation is the first touch point with our DDS students in this ongoing conversation.
All incoming first year dental students are required to complete a virtual orientation in equity, diveristy and inclusion before stepping on UB's campus. The orientation is composed of four modules: First, students meet one another; they share their names and pronunciations, pronouns, pictures, and interesting facts. Next, students explore EDI at UB and the School of Dental Medicine and then investigate structural marginalization as a public health problem that impacts all of us, our patients, and the communities in which we work. Then students explore equity, diversity and inclusion in public health and our collective responsibility to build inclusive communities. Finally, students construct and recommend policies and practices we can collectively take to strengthen our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Students interact with one another and the curriculum virtually before beginning their first semester at the UB SDM. The curriculum is hosted on an interactive whiteboard platform called Miro. On the shared Miro board, all students can interact with all curriculum assignments, respond with their reflections, and explore a bank of additional resources.
Every module of the curriculum includes reflective assignments. Students respond to prompts that ask them to reflect on their own experiences, select quotes and explain their sigificance, or respond creatively through poetry or prose. All reflections are anonymous - coded through assigned numbers - so that students feel safe responding, and reflecting on the responses of their peers, without judgment. Below is a selection of responses from the classes of 2025 and 2026.
Silence is complicit
Silence that is deafening
The empty stares
In the face of injustice
Yet we do not speak
Change cannot be brought by silence
A tsunami of thoughts invades my head at night.
They are so loud I can barely hear anything else.
Yet when morning comes the waves recede and I am standing on the empty shore.
Defeated, soaked, and silent.
How does one possibly swim against the tide?
A silent tread of feet in the sand would stir me from my thoughts and I look up
To a pair of eyes, which makes contact with mine as she walks past me.
She has been swimming too, and her eyes show that she is just as defeated as I.
She is gone, and I see another.
A boy, a young one this time, grinning from head to toe
His hair is damp and his spirit has not been broken
But it will.
Maybe not today, and maybe not next week, but it will eventually.
I have been there before.
Evening falls once more and I feel a tug on my arm.
It's the boy and he's dancing on his feet.
He's eager, and his eyes are pleading.
The word no dances on the edge of my tongue - it's futile, boy, I wanted to say.
But the words won't come.
Instead I turn and look behind me, at the comfort of my home.
Then out again at the new wave, now rising as it came.
"Let's go." I say.
As the wave rushed over us, the girl is rising at my side.
And another pair of strangers at the other.
And another behind me.
And the tide began to turn.
We all derive from different roots, and It's what makes up you and I. We work efficiently and successfully as a team when we establish DEI. Hurtful actions and words against others may be ignored by you and me. Enabling such behavior puts us all in the wrong, so let's do what's is right and take collective accountability. Changes in our behavior plant the seed for societal change with the rest of the world as our audience. Our collective actions, if done right, will pave the path to ending racial injustice.
What is a life
Or a life worth giving
When there is no life beyond mine
What is my purpose
If not setting out the promise
That I vowed to fulfill
And vowed to succeed
If it shall become unjust
An Antiracist Dentist
I made a commitment to serve the community
not just by ensuring oral health for all
but by understanding true humanity
this is why I made the call
to make listening, learning, and leading my personality
Comfortable being uncomfortable
I'm not racist I say
But I stand by and say nothing in the face of racism.
I may not be saying racist things
But my silence is loud enough.
Only by speaking up
And using my privilege and voice for the voiceless
Can we make real change.
It's time to become comfortable being uncomfortable.
Comfort. Is that not what we all crave?
A warm blanket to keep us safe through the night.
But where does comfort lead us?
Does it pave the way towards something great?
Does it make us brave to behave that way?
I think it is time to discuss a better way.
I will speak up today, create debate.
Stand up for those who bear the weight of the injustices of this day.
I will not let my fear dictate the initiatives I make.
There are multiple steps to take, but it begins with one this day.
I will push the limits, risk rejection, and learn from those mistakes.
I will face these challenges in order to grow as a person and embrace my fears.
How else can I convey that it is time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Forsake comfort. It is overrated anyways.
Embrace discomfort today!
Ms. Jones shared some just refuse to do better, in fact that’s the preface of her book
the thought of some refusing to help the greater good had me quite shook
Maybe it’s not quite a refusal but needing someone else to ignite the spark
others will follow when there is suddenly light on the path that was once dark
She made the metaphor for dominoes to fall one has to fall first, and the rest will do the same
especially when it’s difficult, the truth must be shared to have a spark become an ongoing flame
Honesty, integrity and justice are the core values that one should live by
especially in those moments that you rather just quit or cry
The talk reminded me of a quote by Nelson Mandela that says, “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears”
a thought to remember as we guide ourselves and look to uplift our peers
In a world that chooses to whisper, she said she yells
the hardest stories to share are the ones she tells
Did you mean it? Can you defend it? Did you say it with love? - what great questions to ask
something to challenge yourself by, even on just a small everyday task
I think the talk could be summed up by her line, “Comfort is overrated”
It’s only when we go out of the known can our lives be elevated
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
A feeling that I don't know the name of
washes over me
Like a wave, it wakes me up
It feels like a snake
crawling down my back
I pause and let it crawl
The feeling leaves and
I feel alright
Yes, I feel great
Standing above a cliff
Too far away to see the view
What if I fall?
But the view might be worth the risk
I take a step forward
I do not fall
Reflect on being an antiracist dentist (poem)
See your privilege and do not be scared
For being scared only fortifies those beliefs
Look into their eyes
Do not put them into that box you have so carefully created in your mind
See them for the way they shook your hand or the way they greeted you with a smile
Let them construct their own box
For they are only human
Same as you
Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable Haiku
Truth to power, sacrifice
Do it anyway
I know that humans are supposed to be at the top of the food chain.
Powerful hunters that can take down prey much larger than them.
Then why does my voice shake when I speak?
Why do I feel like a mouse, cornered, shivering, and scared?
Where are those apex predator traits that I'm supposed to have?
But when I do find the courage to speak, even with trembling voice, pounding heart, and clammy hands, I find something that I didn't expect.
I see people nodding, agreeing, smiling.
They hear me.
They like my ideas
They respect my opinions.
They think what I have to say is important.
What I have to say is important.
I climb back on top of the pyramid.
It's hard to say what I feel that I need to say, when I'm not the loudest or biggest person in the room.
But I'm saying it with love. I'm saying it for myself and everyone else who doesn't think they're the loudest, biggest, most important person in the room.
Someone needs to be brave.
I guess it will be me.
A haiku on being an anti-racist:
Wrestle your discomfort and
Live it every day