You seem to have an incorrect understanding. It is perfectly legal to consider race. That is the whole reason Affirmative Action programs can legally operate. In Bakke v Californian Regents (1978) the US Supreme Court held “race could be one of several determining factors in college admission policies” but overt use of racial quotas was found unconstitutional. Even more recently, in Plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard (2018), when Asian Students sued Harvard for using Affirmative Action programs that effectively discriminated against Asian students, the defendant admitted it was using race in making admission decisions.
Harvard acknowledges that its undergraduate admissions process considers race as one factor among many.
Though evidence in the case showed being Black was worth an extra 193 SAT points versus Whites and 218 versus Asian candidates for admission, Harvard won. It showed Asians scored lower on a nebulous personality index that many have likened to a barely hidden codification of prejudicial anti-Asian stereotypes. The court also agreed Harvard had a legitimate interest in pursuing a racially diverse mix of students.
If you support Affirmative Action, you need to at least admit that it establishes mechanisms promoting systemic racism in favor of American Blacks. This can be justified for several reasons. One is that it gives people formerly held back a compensatory boost to catch up. It levels the playing field for those previously not treated fairly. It also helps integrate POC into American society at all levels. However, if pushed too hard and too long, Affirmative Action is inimical to the American Dream of providing a fair opportunity for each person. It effectively penalizes Asian American students who have made strides under the system of meritocracy where their good test scores provided them tickets to admission to colleges and advancement in professional and technical fields. Some of the beneficiaries have included Caribbean students and African students, groups of POC whose ancestors never were slaves in America or subject to Jim Crow segregation. It is hard to argue they were originally intended as beneficiaries of Affirmative Action.
In recent years the whole discussion of Affirmative Action has been hampered by the collective insistence of Woke Diversity ideologues that it doesn’t exist. and never happened. The fact that we do have a actual fifty year old system favoring American Blacks is an embarrassing and stunning refutation of the insistent assertion that America is still beset by widespread systemic racism against American Blacks.
Someone needs to write an essay explaining what Affirmative Action has been and what it has accomplished. There also needs to be discussion about what Affirmative Action should be in the future and how long it should last. I’ll say this. My perception is that Affirmative Action was about helping people move up the ladder and integrating into the society while doing minimal harm to the institutions and their standards. The new anti-racism is about attacking the standards of our institutions and promoting a racial spoils systems. Affirmative Action and Diversity/Anti-racism are not conceptually compatible.