There is a better way to do affirmative action, one that sidesteps the controversy about race. It should be based on need, not race. A person should get help if they come from an underprivileged background, with no consideration of race or ethnicity. Since some minority groups have a high percentage of underprivileged families, there would be a high percentage of those families that benefit from affirmative action. People of European descent would benefit at a much lower percentage, although the total number may still be high. There are plenty of poor white people. A poor white person needs help more than a middle-class black person. Poor blacks and poor whites would both get help, if this policy were adopted. Basic justice tells us that people who need help should be the ones to get it, regardless of skin color or other ethnic characteristics.
The main drawback of this policy is the effort that it takes to evaluate the merits of each applicant. It is relatively easy to determine if someone is black or white, at least in most cases. In order to have a totally need-based policy it would be necessary to employ many case workers to determine the eligibility of the applicants. Of course, in my opinion, this is a good thing, since we need government policies that increase total employment.