From "The Affirmative Action Stalemate" by Nathan Glazer, in The Public Interest (Winter 1988):
The most important lesson from the study of public policies designed to improve the condition of blacks is that people will resist what government does to improve it directly more than they will any individual's effort to improve his own position. The black in a job finds no problem with his colleagues; but a problem may arise when that job is gained through quotas and goals in a particularly egregious manner. The black family sending its children to a white majority school will find no problem, if it is a neighborhood school, a private school, or a Catholic school; it may have a problem when the assignment to a school is made by government against prevalent expectations of how children are assigned to or select schools. The black family in a white majority neighborhood rarely runs into trouble; but a policy designed to spread low-income black families into middle-income areas, black or white, through subsidized housing, does mean trouble.
No American can be satisfied with the overall condition of black Americans, despite progress in recent dec-but government actions that aim at statistical goals for minorities are not likely to do better in improving that condition than the work and efforts of blacks in an open and, it is to be hoped, more prosperous society. That government should prevent and punish discrimination is universally accepted by Americans. When government tries to determine how many members of a particular ethnic group should get certain jobs or promotions, attend particular schools, or live in designated areas, however, it runs into widespread opposition.