words on blocks that spell trust us

Hastings Center Report

The Public Performativity of Trust

Abstract: Building trust between academic medical centers and certain communities they depend on in the research process is hard, particularly when those communities consist of minoritized or historically marginalized populations. Some believe that engagement activities like the creation of advisory boards, town halls, or a research workforce that looks more like community members will establish or reestablish trust between academic medical centers and racialized communities. However, without systematic approaches to dismantle racism, those well-intended actions become public performativity, and trust building will fail. In this essay, we draw upon foundational ethical principles of trust, distrust, and trust building; apply the concept of bounded justice to performative trust acts; and center the works of Black and Indigenous feminist bioethicists to revisit some of the wisdom and valuable lessons they have contributed. Rebuilding trust is hard to do because people and institutions are often not honest about how hard it is and there is no simple box-checking task that can disentangle our society’s injustices, but there are steps to take in this direction. Individuals and institutions can recognize valuable relevant work that has already been written, partake in critical reflection, and then apply insights gained to take both small and sustainable steps toward transformational change and deeper trust.

Read the Article