Hennepin County dedicates entire month to ‘diversity’ with lessons on ‘dismantling whiteness,’ ‘respecting pronouns’

Diversity month has been taking place in Hennepin County since 2015.

The Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. (Shutterstock)

Hennepin County holds an annual “Celebrating Diversity Month” for employees, which features “learning opportunities” on “dismantling whiteness” and “respecting pronouns.”

Some of the training sessions are hosted by explicitly left-wing organizations, such as OutFront Minnesota, whose training manager Hannah Edwards will be leading two sessions called “2SLGBTQIA+ 101.” Employees will learn “general terms relating to gender and sexuality, respecting pronouns, and how to be an ally to gender non-conforming people.”

Another training will provide Hennepin County employees with “tools for dismantling whiteness.”

“This training examines culture narratives and the importance of awareness of one’s culture in moving away from a hierarchy of whiteness, as well as provide tools for action,” says a description for the training.

The training, which has a second session scheduled for later in October, is being conducted by Healing Roots. According to its website, Healing Roots seeks to help others “discover healthy resources not tied to colonialism or oppression.”

Diversity month has been taking place in Hennepin County since 2015, according to an internal document obtained by Alpha News.

“Since 2015, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Department has collaborated with partners across the organization to provide Hennepin County employees a full month’s worth of diversity, equity, and inclusion programming,” the document says.

Two additional trainings cover the topic of race. The document explains that “all staff are encouraged to join at least one of the Celebrate Diversity in October events.”

Hennepin County’s website says that “engaging and informative presentations are held throughout the month of October, providing numerous opportunities for employees to learn about the many dimensions of diversity.”

Other “cultural awareness training and events” that Hennepin County provides include some required classes for new employees as part of orientation and an annual required diversity and inclusion training for all employees.

“Hennepin County’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department proudly hosts for its workforce of more than 9,000 employees an event called, ‘Celebrating Diversity in October,’” a spokesperson told Alpha News. “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is one of Hennepin County’s core values and it’s worth celebrating. Our staff represent the county daily — this space is an opportunity for staff to celebrate, learn and grow in DEI best practices.”

All of the sessions are voluntary, according to the spokesperson. “DEI is critical to our work and is in support of the county’s commitment to reducing disparities,” she said.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.