I haven't done much research into this area—although I intend to over the break. The issue at hand is affirmative action. The classic, pervasive anti-affirmative action claim is simply: the most qualified person for the job should get the job.
Just thinking about it, this seems logical. Why shouldn't the most qualified person for a given job always get that job?
The next thing that pops to mind, however, is: who are the most qualified people? Well, they're the people who have education—the more, the better. Education, training, and connections—this is what makes a person qualified for an arbitrary job. Skill, job history, these play roles too. Who are the people who have the most education, the most training, and the most connections? The rich. In particular, rich white men. White because that's the way the power and money balance is in this country, and men because even today they are the most educated (women are not encouraged in school, specifically in the sciences, not just among the rich, but society-wide). So, sticking with simply the most qualified/educated person for a job, it seems natural that the vast majority of jobs would go to relatively wealthy white men. This makes it more difficult for people of lower classes (less money) to "make it" and to get those choice jobs. Minority groups make up a disproportionally large percentage of the poor. This is not necessarily either here nor there, but it is something to note, that essentially, the statement that the most qualified person for any job should always get it reinforces social class boundaries.
Of course, the counter-question would be: is this a bad thing?
Interestingly, people of different races score very differently on standardized tests. White and Asian-American students generally score 200 or more points higher than black students on SAT tests. If colleges took exclusively the most qualified applicants, their makeup would be very nearly all white and asian. Of course, at the same time, students who are not qualified to get into certain colleges are more likely to be unable to maintain the required work level for that institution, and are more likely to drop out.
I think I need to read more of this