~ Warning: random race rant below ~
Whether your aim is to tout the superiority of one group or to claim we're all the same -- and should be equally "represented" -- I say it's race-consciousness, either way.
I was provoked to write this after a paleoconservative acquaintance sent me an email discussing the disproportionate number of Jewish Nobel prizewinners. He concluded with something like, "We cannot expect any notable scientific achievement from a black female."
First of all: who cares if Einstein was a Jew? Or Mises, or Rand? Does that give some random Jewish person bragging rights? No. Does it raise society's expectations of Joe Schmoeberg? It shouldn't.
But there's a bigger problem with race-consciousness... as it relates to hiring practices. When women agitate for more "representation" among the tenured physics professors at MIT, they fail to think ahead. Where will this get the average girl on the street? Unless you're one of those lucky female scientists who get boosted above male colleagues, this reverse discrimination affects you not at all. So let's stop pretending the female prof who file a lawsuit to get tenure is such a martyr. Hers is a 100% self-interested act (not that there's anything wrong with that).
I don't give a rat's patoot whether my teacher's a male, female, Asian, Jamaican... so long as the teacher is brilliant. And as universities step up the number of mediocre affirmative-action hires, my teacher is bound to be less than brilliant. So actually it hurts the socially-conscious young minds in the classroom.
It hurts the affirmative-action hires, too, for reasons you're all familiar with. There ARE intelligent, capable blacks, hispanics, and women. (I know it because I've met quite a few.) But the way things stand, no one would ever guess they got their jobs based on anything but pity. And that's a shame for everyone.