New health commissioner called protesters ‘essential workers,’ argued against ‘colorblindness’

Cunningham will replace retiring health commissioner Jan Malcolm.

Brooke Cunningham/University of Minnesota

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has appointed Dr. Brooke Cunningham to lead Minnesota’s Department of Health (MDH). Cunningham has a long history of advocating far-left views shared by Black Lives Matter and other radical groups.

Cunningham was announced as Walz’s pick on Dec. 21. She previously served as the assistant commissioner of MDH’s Health Equity Bureau. An internist who has taught at the University of Minnesota, Cunningham co-directed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion thread at the university’s medical school. She received doctorates in medicine and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I aim to prioritize equity in our science, operations, and community partnerships, so that we can more effectively protect, maintain, and improve the health of all Minnesotans,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham’s approach towards race has been published in a variety of outlets. In a 2020 Time magazine article, she called on police to “limit arrests” and to halt “the use of tear gas” on “oppressed” rioters as ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Protesters are essential workers in a pandemic of police brutality and global racism,” she wrote. “Police in the U.S. have always used violence (or the omnipresent threat of violence) to maintain the racial order.”

On her Twitter page, Cunningham said medical faculty need to be “re-educated” so they know “race is a social construct” and that “racism is a health risk.”

Cunningham also called for the “redistribution of resources” and the tearing down of statues of “slave holders,” presumably including the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In November 2020, Cunningham wrote an article titled “This, Too, Is What Racism Feels Like” for Health Affairs. The essay was a personal reflection on how the “health effects of racism” impact the black community. Terms like “health equity” are littered throughout the article.

Cunningham has co-authored similar articles for other medical journals, which reflects the growing trend of social justice ideology infiltrating the health field in the US.

Along with three other medical professionals in October 2022, Cunningham co-authored a study titled “Colorblind Racial Ideology and Physician Use of Race in Medical Decision-Making” in The Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

“Colorblindness is a racial ideology that minimizes the role of systemic racism in shaping outcomes for racial minorities,” an abstract for the study claims. “Physicians who embrace colorblindness may be less likely to interrogate the role of racism in generating health disparities and less likely to challenge race-based treatment.”

Cunningham co-authored a 2018 study on developing “an anti-racism curriculum for first-year medical students,” according to an article on the school’s website.

“To fight racism and its potential influence on health, health care professionals must recognize, name, understand and talk about racism,” an abstract says.

She was one of many coauthors of a study that claimed “conservative ideology” is associated “with greater implicit bias against black and gay individuals, more negative explicit attitudes toward stigmatized groups, lower internal motivation to control racial prejudice, lower levels of trait empathy and empathy toward patients, and lower levels of patientcentered attitudes.”

Gov. Walz praised Cunningham’s appointment in a press release last month. “As the leader of the Minnesota Department of Health’s equity work, Dr. Brooke Cunningham has demonstrated her skill as a leader and commitment to advancing the health and wellbeing of people across the state,” he said. “She shares our vision of public health, and we are glad to have her leadership and expertise in our Administration.”

Cunningham will replace retiring health commissioner Jan Malcolm. Her appointment aligns with the Walz administration’s goal of “centering equity” in all of state government.


Stephen Kokx

Stephen Kokx, M.A., is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in such outlets as Catholic Family News and