Charlotte Curtis, associate editor of The New York Times, said last night that affirmative action should not be directed specifically toward women or members of minority groups, but toward those who are educationally or economically deprived.
Attention should be paid not to whether someone is male or female, black or white, Curtis told the Friends of the Schlesinger Library. "We should be mindful of whether they are rich or poor--particularly poor. They are the people who need equal access to the system. They are the people who need our support," she said.
Curtis said the sudden emergence in the late 1960s of a women's movement, which she attributed largely to corporate response to anti-discrimination lawsuits, had turned women into "the instant people--the instant woman."
She said that a lawsuit brought against American Telephone and Telegraph for discrimination against women "really shook up industry," and "had the impact of the Supreme Court Ruling in Brown v. Board of Education."
This has led to women being treated "as if [they] were a vast underclass, which they are not," she said.
"Shouldn't those of us who are not educationally or economically deprived...leave affirmative action for those who need it most?" Curtis asked.
Much of the audience seemed bewildered by Curtis's remarks, and queries during a question-and-answer session focused on her duties as The Times's op-ed page editor, a position Curtis assumed five months ago.
But one woman, Eleanor White, said she felt there was "something very trivial" about Curtis's talk, and added that it left her with "a feeling that society should now concentrate on poor blacks and poor whites, and that the people in-between should be forgotten."