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Group Assesses State Of Affirmative Action In US

 WASHINGTON  -- America's Wire has released a Q & A with Shirley J. Wilcher, director of the American Association for Affirmative Action, who maintains that the more than 90,000 employment discrimination complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year clearly demonstrates that affirmative action is still needed in the United States.

In an exclusive interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kenneth J. Cooper, Ms. Wilcher criticized ill-defined diversity programs at some colleges and companies, urged federal investigations of employers that have stopped advertising jobs in minority-oriented publications and rejected proposals to limit affirmative action to native-born African-Americans or low-income members of minority groups.

"Clearly, there have been attacks on affirmative action so much that people are afraid to even use the term anymore," Ms. Wilcher says. "We've even had debates within my group, the American Association for Affirmative Action—should we change the name? So far, the group view is we will not change the name because it has somehow fallen out of favor."

Adds Ms. Wilcher: "Some [employers] now are assuming that if you went to an Ivy League school and you are African-American, you were admitted through affirmative action and you're not as good. So you're still a victim if you graduated from Harvard orPenn or Yale. Somehow they can't quite believe you're good enough even though nobody [else] takes your exams."

Furthermore, she notes that the George W. Bush administration had prohibited civil rights officials from using the term "affirmative action."


The American Association for Affirmative Action is based in Washington, D.C., and has 1,000 members. During the Clinton administration, Ms. Wilcher ran the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, a Labor Department agency that enforces a legal mandate that government contractors practice affirmative action.  Her experience in civil rights law extends back three decades to summer internships at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund when she was a student at Harvard Law School.

America's Wire is operated by the Maynard Institute's Media Center on Structural Racism. America's Wire is an innovative news service that will provide enterprising content for wire services, mainstream newspapers, ethnic/community papers, magazines and websites. America's Wire will provide subscribers with professionally reported, written and edited stories that will help readers better understand the obstacles and challenges faced by people of color. America's Wire is made possible through a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.


STORY TAGS: BLACK , AFRICAN AMERICAN , MINORITY , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , NAACP , URBAN LEAGUE , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY



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