That they're also black people on the right is reason enough for a lot of people to presume that merit doesn't explain their rise.
It's impossible to feel good about that.
This passage is worth reading too:
The rise of the diversity rationale for affirmative action has not
been costless, but it has ensured that appreciable numbers of racial
minorities are in strategic positions, while dampening certain side
effects that attend any regime of racial selectivity. Unlike affirmative
action based on grounds of compensatory justice, the diversity
rationale is non-accusatory. It doesn't depend on an assumption of
culpability for some past or present wrong, and it minimizes the anger
ignited when whites are accused of being beneficiaries of racial
privilege. Everyone can be a part of diversity....
The diversity rationale also facilitates the evasion of prickly
subjects -- for instance, the fact that racial minorities selected for
valued positions sometimes have records that, according to certain
criteria such as standardized tests, are inferior to those of white
competitors. The diversity rationale moves the spotlight from the
perceived deficiencies of racial minorities to their perceived
strengths. Unlike other justifications for affirmative action that seek
to make exceptions to meritocracy, the diversity rationale is consistent
with meritocratic premises. This is the most striking and historically
significant aspect of affirmative action: It enables racial-minority
status for the first time in American history to be seen as a valuable
credential. Instead of the presence of blacks and other racial
minorities constituting an expiation of past sins, the diversity
rationale makes their presence a welcome and positive good.
The biggest concern I have about affirmative action is its inevitable trickiness in an increasingly multi-ethnic society. Is it going to pit various minority groups against one another in some situations? Does its logic lead to occasions when privileged but numerically small minority groups will be advantaged over more numerous but less advantaged people? Doesn't the fact of multiracial Americans make standard-setting about who qualifies an increasingly arbitrary affair, more likely to reflect the power of political constituencies than justice? There is also diversity-based affirmative action's implicit judgment that race is the most relevant measure of diversity, something that is true in some but not all circumstances.
On the whole, I tend to think that racial diversity is sometimes important, and that color blindness before the law is even more important -- enough to prohibit government sponsored affirmative action efforts, as California voters have done, while acknowledging that private entities sometimes have legitimate diversity interests.
And diversity proponents ought to take heart, as I do, that this country's institutions -- both public and private -- are going to grow more diverse with or without affirmative action. Racists are disproportionately old, and steadily dying at a faster rate than less racist people and non-racists. Its actually one of the few positive trends we've got going. Of course, racial disparities are more complicated than "racists are holding minorities down," but an ever less prejudiced America isn't nothing.