The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an association of equal employment opportunity (EEO), diversity and affirmative action professionals founded in 1974, expressed dismay regarding Sen. James Webb’s opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal. In his op-ed titled “Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege,” (July 22, 2010), Sen. Webb called for the end of Affirmative Action programs, except for those intended for African Americans. The Association wrote a letter to the Senator on July 27, 2010, and stated:
“We agree with your assessment that nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens. You may not know, however, that anti-discrimination laws, which banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in 1964 as well as disability and veterans’ status in 1973 and 1974, protect everyone, including white men and women.”
The Association explained that national origin discrimination was among the original covered categories in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of the persistent exclusion of individuals who, by virtue of their language, ancestry, culture or birthplace were denied access to employment or educational opportunities. “Affirmative Action laws were added as a means of promoting equal opportunity and remedying the effects of discrimination,” said Gregory T. Chambers, AAAA President. “Affirmative Action is necessary, fair, prevents discrimination and gives everyone an opportunity to compete regardless of race, ability or gender,” he added.
Discrimination is grounded in prejudice resulting in unjust exclusion of qualified individuals in the workforce, academe and government contracting. There is a well-established history of discrimination against Asians and Hispanics as well as African Americans, women and individuals with disabilities in the USA.
AAAA urged Senator Webb to meet with its leadership in Washington, DC in September. “We invite the Senator to have a dialogue with us in order to be properly informed about affirmative action law and policy,” Chambers said.