This term refers to the practice of hiring minority races over white races, even if the white applicant is more qualified. The idea behind this is that minorities (mainly those of African descent) were oppressed and this is one way for the government to make ammends. Obviously the repercussions are serious for example hiring a less qualified applicant in the medical field. Also this idea itself could be considered racist, what is more derogatory than saying that minorities need be hired first regardless of merits as if they do not have merits!!! Many people haved sued for reverse discrimination saying that the most qualified applicant no matter what should have the job in question. Also because this is a racial issue most people tend to overlook the fact this is another way for the government to exercise control over businesses in the private sector.
I have a PhD (doctorate) in Physcis and applied for a teaching position at a local high school, but because of affirmitive action a person with only a Bachelors degree was hired.