HCMC holds bimonthly safe space ‘for employees of color’

"It’s really frustrating and it makes you feel angry, like we (white people) are horrible people to be around."

The Hennepin County Medical Center building in Minneapolis. (Hennepin Healthcare News)

Hennepin County Medical Center has been providing “safe spaces” to non-white employees only following a series of controversial incidents.

Safe spaces are designed to provide a place for people who want to talk about issues without conflict and criticism from the outside world.

For some Minnesotans, these meetings are a threat to free speech and have created a toxic and divisive workplace culture.

A source told Alpha News that HCMC began organizing safe-space events exclusively for employees of color a few weeks ago, after the Star Tribune published a picture of two employees dressed in blackface. It’s unclear how old the photo is, but it apparently prompted a group of 11 doctors to call for a new “antiracist framework” in the Hennepin Healthcare system.

This story broke shortly after a Hennepin Healthcare doctor was criticized for continuing to train Minneapolis police in “excited delirium,” a medical diagnosis that the American Medical Association condemned last year as a “manifestation of systemic racism.”

A screenshot of one of HCMC’s virtual safe-space announcements was shared with Alpha News. In part it reads, “Safe Spaces for Employees of Color.”

A screenshot of a virtual safe space event at Hennepin County Medical Center.

“It’s really frustrating and it makes you feel angry, like we (white people) are horrible people to be around. And yes, lots of us are upset. Where is our place to hide? No one wants to complain because it’s not the ‘culture’ of the administration there. We have an equity officer now and they are very sensitive to racial issues these days,” a source told Alpha News.

In an email to Alpha News, a spokesperson for HCMC said, “We’ve offered a variety of opportunities for employees to come together to discuss events and issues that are important to them over the past several weeks.”

The safe-space event appears on the hospital calendar twice a month, according to a source.


Pafoua Yang

Pafoua Yang is a reporter for Alpha News. She has worked as an on-air reporter for stations across the Twin Cities.