Affirmative action means giving someone a preference or advantage based on the color of his skin, or gender, to reverse the effects of discrimination and often for political motivation. Quotas are an extreme form of affirmative action. Though liberals whine about how bad racial profiling is, they promote affirmative action, which is essentially the same thing as racial profiling.
The original concept of affirmative action, when introduced by the Johnson administration, was that it is desirable to not merely act on non-discrimination passively (i.e., saying "this job is open to any applicant", but then making no efforts to find minority applicants), but should also be done actively, by taking definite actions to find applicants from minorities.
This would be, in its way, admirable. However, in current use, affirmative action goes beyond this, often mandating the use of quotas for setting aside jobs or a portion of college entrance positions for each minority (including also some so-called minorities that are actually majorities).
- The worst feature of such programs is that they are presented to the public as if they were "equal opportunity" programs when they are patently aimed at "equal outcomes" regardless of the merits and abilities of job applicants. 
In effect, this means selecting applicants by the color of their skin, precisely what the original concept of non-discrimination forbids. This is sometimes called "reverse discrimination," although this term is rather contradictory - discrimination remains discrimination.
Dinesh D'Souza wrote:
|“||Many whites have become increasingly scornful of black demands, and vehemently reject racial preferences. Most blacks, by contrast, support affirmative action as indispensable to fighting the enduring effects of white racism.||”|
John H. McWhorter wrote:
|“||For most black Americans, the rapid increase of the black middle class, of interracial relationships and marriages, and of blacks in prestigious positions has no bearing on the real state of black America. Further, they believe, whites’ inability to grasp the unmistakable reality of oppression is itself proof of racism, while blacks who question that reality are self-deluded. ||”|
On August 28, 2007 the United States Commission on Civil Rights released a report that determined that affirmative action can be harmful to minority law school students because students admitted through affirmative action programs are more likely to be unprepared and are thus being set up for failure.