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Virginia's chief diversity officer faces backlash over 'equity' comments

In an April speech at Virginia Military Institute, Brown is heard telling an audience that "DEI is dead."

RICHMOND, Va. — A newly penned letter by Virginia's House minority leader is calling into question the work of the state's chief diversity officer.

Monday, Portsmouth Del. Don Scott, in tandem with State Sen. Scott Surovell, sent a letter to former Virginia Beach Delegate and current Attorney General Jason Miyares over recent comments made by Martin Brown, the director of the Office of Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion, or DEI for short.

In an April speech at Virginia Military Institute, Brown is heard telling an audience that "DEI is dead."

"We’re not going to bring that cow up anymore, it’s dead. It was mandated by the General Assembly, but this governor [Gov. Glenn Youngkin] has a different philosophy of treating people with civility and discourse," he said.

"To me, I think there is a misunderstanding that it’s about race. I think it’s a way for the governor to continue and divide us. When we talk about equity, how do we put everybody, regardless of race or gender, in a place to succeed?" Scott told 13News Now Wednesday.

In 2020, lawmakers passed HB 394 to establish the "Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," a measure voted on by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. However, Martin's official title with the state government is "Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion."

The difference between "equity" and "opportunity," and Brown's comments about the two, have led to calls by Democratic lawmakers for Brown to resign.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, Latino Caucus as well as the Virginia NAACP have all called for Brown to resign.

Del. Scott penned the letter to the AG to get a ruling on whether he believes Brown is operating under the conditions of his own job.

"Changing nomenclature, he's basically saying, 'I’m not going to do the duties within the statute that I'm mandated by law to do.' That’s what’s most disturbing, not Mr. Brown himself, that someone in this position would do that," Scott said.

A spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin's office responded, saying quote:

"Governor Youngkin will continue to advance equal opportunities -- not equal outcomes -- for all Virginians. Democrats' last ditch attempt to issue complaints regarding an office that has been in place for over a year, won't work."

You can read the full letter to Attorney General Miyares below:

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